On every wedding anniversary, Chris Baker added another thin gold bracelet to her wrist. She had collected 36 of them before she died Thursday.
"They went all the way up her arm," said friend Jessica Daniels. "The relationship she and Tom shared was so beautiful."
And Chris was eager to share that relationship with students at Carson Middle School, where she taught special education.
"She told them those bracelets symbolized the importance of love, commitment and family," said Daniels, who also teaches at the middle school. "She was an exemplary role model.
"She was magnificent. She truly was everything a teacher needs to be."
For Chris' husband, Tom Baker, former rural representative for U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, she was also everything a wife needed to be.
The two met at Idaho State University and were married during their senior year in 1966.
"The smartest thing I ever did was marry her 36 years ago," Tom said. "She was so supportive of everything I wanted to do. She was an absolutely beautiful woman. What a great partner."
Four years later, Annette Simonson married Chris' brother.
"The first time I met her, I just immediately felt cared for and loved," Simonson said. "It's still that way."
Tom and Chris had three children: Tom "Rob" and John Baker and Theresa Baker-Eidukas and a 10-month-old granddaughter, Annette Eidukas.
"She let us find our own path," Theresa said. "My friends always said I was lucky because I had the best mom."
Chris, 59, was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer about eight years ago and spent almost 100 days at Stanford Medical Center. She recovered after having had a bone marrow transplant from stem cells harvested from a family member.
"We thought that she had this thing beat," Tom said. "That's the tragic part of this whole darn thing."
Chris returned to work and spent the last year in her classroom.
"Chris Baker was a courageous person," said school Superintendent Mary Pierczynski. "She battled cancer and always had a great attitude. This is a tremendous loss to our district."
She suffered a stroke brought on by a growing tumor two weeks ago and died Thursday, surrounded by loved ones and listening to Johnny Mathis on her headphones.
"The end was so peaceful," Tom said. "I had the opportunity to tell her we were all OK and to feel free to just let go."
Since her death, Tom said he has not had to cook a meal and has received condolences from many members of the community, including Gov. Kenny Guinn and former Sen. Bryan.
Longtime friend Bob Kennedy said Chris' influence will continue.
"She will definitely be felt," he said. "She will not be forgotten."
Her bracelets will be divided among the children, who have come to associate the clinking of metal with their mom.
"They're just my mother," Theresa said. "They're everything about her."
A Rosary will be said at St. Teresa Church 7 p.m. Sunday. The funeral will be at St. Teresa Church at 11 a.m. Monday. A reception will follow the graveside service.
In lieu of flowers, the family wishes donations sent to the Carson-Tahoe Hospital Cancer Treatment Center building fund, care of the C-TH Foundation at P.O. Box 2168 Carson City, NV 89702.
Obituary: Christine Anne Baker
A Rosary will be said at St. Teresa Church 7 p.m. Sunday for longtime Carson City resident Christine Anne Baker.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church on Lompa Lane. A reception will follow the graveside service.
Mrs. Baker died June 19, 2003 at Washoe Medical Center in Reno. She was born Jan. 12, 1944 in Spokane, Wash. to Stewart and Maryjane Hangaver Simonson. She was 59.
She married Thomas Baker on Nov. 26, 1966 in Pocatello, Idaho, when both were seniors at Idaho State University.
The Bakers moved to Carson City in 1977 from Sacramento.
Mrs. Baker was a teacher's aide and a special education teacher for the Carson City School District since 1978.
She was a member of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church and P.E.O. Chapter N.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
Among her survivors are her husband of 36 years; daughter, Theresa Eidukas, of Seattle; sons Tom "Rob" of Carson City and John of San Pedro, Calif.; sister Mary Caravalho of Riverside, Calif.; brothers John Simonson of Palo Alto, Calif., Dan Simonson of Spokane and Bill Simonson of Fresno, Calif.; one granddaughter Annette Eidukas of Seattle; and 12 nieces and nephews.
Donations in her name may be made to the Carson-Tahoe Hospital Cancer Treatment Center building fund, in care of the Carson-Tahoe Hospital Foundation, P.O. Box 2168 Carson City, NV 89702.
FitzHenry's Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.