She used powerful words to diffuse situations, “I love you.” Many carry this memory of ProAct participant Sherri Baker, who passed away in July.

To honor the 54-year-old who attended ProAct in Eagan for 23 years, the family planted a dogwood tree at the nonprofit’s headquarters. Friends joined with family and staff to share memories.

Outgoing and insistent

“She would come down and tell me what she needed right away, ‘Ron, take care of it.’ And, that was it, she was out the door,” said Sherri’s longtime case manager, Ron Hernandez. “She would come in and say her peace.”

When building and grounds coordinator Stephanie Skordahl would ask Sherri over several days to move away from the door and into the cafeteria to make a way for others, she responded, “I love you.”

On another occasion outside of work, Program Coordinator Stephanie Osman was on the final three miles of a walk for breast cancer and had the shin splints bad. Telling herself she needed to make it, she looked up and saw Sherri in the distance.

She started crying. Baker had fought her own battle with breast cancer and won. Osman decided she needed to get back in the race.

More fond memories

Before it was called ProAct, the Eagan nonprofit was Owobopte. Sherri’s sister Lois Baker related a story. One day, Sherri had to give something to the front office. Her sister asked her about it afterward.

“Did you get that to the front office?” asked Lois. “Yes, I gave it to Mrs. Bopte. Mr. Bopte is in the front and Mrs. Bopte is right at the front desk.”

Sherri traveled the country with her family, her sister said. “I want to thank everybody for loving her, caring for her, it was great,” said Sherri’s mother, Pat.

Lollipop

The dogwood was chosen for ProAct to honor Sherri’s love for canines. The family’s lap dog, Lollipop, was there for the event. Sherri lived with her parents.

Production Manager Jennifer Cavalier said Sherri cared about people who others may not have noticed. “Sherri was a great advocate for what’s going on around her and looking out for everybody,” she said. “It might not be the best situation at the moment, but she still loved you.

Baker, of Burnsville, is also survived by several cousins and aunts.