‘She Loved Life’

It was almost as if Leslie Baker was still looking out for Brenda Buell even days after Baker was murdered outside her Preston Hollow home.

“The days following Leslie’s passing my online orders for my candle business were inexplicably high and particularly for one scent, French Flower Market,” Buell said. “I thought there must be a glitch with my website or some mistake. It was not until a friend pointed out that Leslie had posted on her Facebook and Instagram that this was her new favorite scent.

“I just sat down and wept and thought, ‘Well, she’s still helping me from heaven!”

Buell said a portion of the sales of that candle, which is sold at her B’s Knees Fragrance Company, will go to the TJ Martell Foundation for cancer research.

“Her sister is the CEO for this foundation, and Leslie was so proud of her work there,” Buell explained.

“She was always thinking of others. She truly took an interest in you. She loved life, she was happy, she loved helping others.”

Becky LaCour, family friend

Buell and other friends spoke with People Newspapers at the suggestion of the Baker family, in hopes that they could share what made their friend special – stories about her life, if you will, instead of its last five minutes.

“My favorite story about Leslie is Leslie’s life. The way she lived it. Every. Single. Day. She had a wonderful, loving marriage to Robert, and they were mutually supportive of one another. She loved, supported, and raised her children, Robert Jr. and Catherine, who no doubt are both accomplished, confident young adults with full lives ahead of them, with a great foundation from Leslie and Robert,” said Denise Lyman. “We should all take a page from the Leslie Baker playbook!”

Baker, a W.T. White High School graduate, was the director of marketing at Texas Health Center for Diagnostic Surgery in Plano.

“She was always thinking of others. She truly took an interest in you. She loved life, she was happy, she loved helping others,” said Becky LaCour, who said their families have been friends for more than 20 years. “She was thoughtful, kind, sincere, she was passionate about women’s health issues. Leslie was funny and had a great sense of humor. Leslie was a go-getter – she would find a cause or something she believed in and worked to make a difference.”

All three spoke of their friend’s willingness to roll up her sleeves and pitch in – from helping with fundraisers for people she never met, to organizing seminars on women’s health, or just being available for people she loved.

“My mother was here for four months to have surgery and rehab,” recalled LaCour. “Leslie would bring me lunch and just sit with me during her lunch break. She would drop off dinner for my family. Leslie knew what I needed and would just make it happen.”

“You wanted to get something done? Get Leslie Baker involved,” Lyman agreed. “If Leslie told you she was going to do something, she did it. No excuses—it got done. The loss is immense to so many people whose lives she touched.”

We spoke with three of Baker’s friends about what made their friend so special. Those conversations, edited for length and clarity, follow.

PN: Tell us your favorite Leslie Baker story.

Lyman: “You see, my favorite story about Leslie is Leslie’s Life. The way she lived it. Every. Single. Day. She had a wonderful, loving marriage to Robert, and they were mutually supportive of one another. She loved, supported and raised her children, Robert Jr., and Catherine, who no doubt are both accomplished, confident young adults with full lives ahead of them, with a great foundation from Leslie and Robert.

Her devotion to her mother, mother-in-law, sisters and family, including Winston, their beloved dog. Her loyalty and support to her many friends and causes she supported and believed in. As a Christian, she walked the walk. Leslie’s Life and the way in which she lived it is my favorite story of all. We should all take a page from the Leslie Baker playbook!”

Buell: “I have many good Leslie stories.  She has always supported me in my business. She did the same for countless others, too.   

Leslie knew I was going back and forth to MD Anderson to care for .my mom going through cancer treatment. I had let her know that I had an imperative upcoming gift market and wasn’t sure how I would have the stamina to get through the weekend market set up along with other pressing deadlines.  I felt I had reached a breaking point. During market, I looked up and there she was.  She just showed up and took over! She used her weekend to help me.

The days following Leslie’s passing my online orders for my candle business were inexplicably high and particularly for once scent, French Flower Market. I thought there must be a glitch with my website or some mistake.  It was not until a friend pointed out that Leslie had posted on her facebook and Instagram that this was her new favorite scent. I just sat down and wept and thought, well, she’s still helping me from heaven! I’ve decided to donate a portion of the sales of this candle going forward to The TJ Martell Foundation for cancer research in Leslie’s name. Her sister is the CEO for this foundation and Leslie was so proud of her work there.” 

LaCour: “I think I have known Leslie for over 20 years. Our families have traveled together, and they are dear friends. Leslie and I went to Round Top to visit a friend and go to the Antique Show there a couple of years ago.
As we pulled up to the first venue, the sign read ‘Vintage Tupperware.’

Leslie responded, ‘Who would ever want to buy used Tupperware?’

Our friend Nancy and I laughed and laughed. That was the beginning of a wonderful and very memorable weekend. All trips with Leslie were full of laughter and excitement.

Leslie, Cindy McGeoch, and I co-chaired Family Night at Six Flags for Children’s Medical Center. She was an amazing co-chair, she was super organized, detailed, and thorough. She definitely knows how to raise money! Leslie puts her heart and soul into charities that she believes in.   In 2006, Family Night at Six Flags raised over $400,000 for the Women’s Auxiliary for Children’s Health. Leslie was an incredible volunteer!! I never hesitated when Leslie asked me to help with a volunteer project. She never questioned anything I asked her to help me with.

Leslie cared about her friends and often would introduce me to friends of hers that were new to Dallas! She wanted everyone to love and enjoy Dallas and feel at home. She was an awesome networker!

My mother was here for four months to have surgery and rehab,  Leslie would bring me lunch and just sit with me during her lunch break.She would drop off dinner for my family.  Leslie knew what I needed and would just make it happen.

Leslie was beautiful inside and out! She always gave me her newest find or her latest new skincare product. I couldn’t wait to use it so that I might have as gorgeous of a complexion as she had. She was always looking out for me.

My last gift to her was salad choppers.

Our families have been close friends for years! Our daughters attended Camp Mystic together,  and we had many exciting camp pick ups. No one can take Leslie’s place, but we will be there for Catherine, Robert, and Robert for whatever they need.”

PN: What did her friendship mean to you?

Buell: “I am so fortunate to have called Leslie a loyal and devoted friend.  She would reach out or just show up or call and check in at just the right time. I would often think, ‘How did she know I needed that today?’ I miss her voice, and inspiring calls.

Her positive influence will be in my heart and soul forever.  Losing Leslie has left a tremendous void in my life but I am inspired to try hard to live as she did! She was selfless and always had a positive view on most everything, all the while keeping a wonderful sense of humor.

She was real and her soul shines bright through her beautiful legacy! I am dealing with this tremendous loss by choosing to think about how she would want us to keep going. I hear her saying, ‘Here’s the deal, here are my thoughts on this…’ and she would say something positive that would make perfect sense.

I’m getting through each day by asking myself, ‘What would Leslie do?’ So I keep going and try to keep just focusing on how fortunate I was to have had a rare friend like Leslie Baker. I feel so lucky!”

LaCour: “Leslie loved me as a friend and she supported me in all of my volunteer projects and friend projects. We supported each other in all projects.  Last year, I was helping some dear friends in Shreveport with Ark La Tex Ambassadors BBQ cook-off – ‘Grilling for Grads.’ Leslie had heard me talk about the weekend and these friends, and drove over one Saturday to volunteer and help us.

Another time Leslie joined me as I  was doing a bone marrow drive for a dear friend who had leukemia. I had never done anything like this before, Leslie helped me brainstorm how to do this, what to do, and was there the whole day to help. Leslie did not even know the family that needed the bone marrow transplant, she was there as a friend – to help a friend! She was caring, selfless, and a devoted treasured friend.”

Lyman: “She was my kind of girl—confident, accomplished, wise, beautiful inside and out, with no airs about her. Our friendship meant the world to me. We both grew up in Farmers Branch, shared the same profession, lived minutes from each other in Preston Hollow, and were in various organizations and clubs. We had many good times with LOTS of laughter, many over a glass of wine with friends or countless dinners! We supported each other and always had each other’s back.

Leslie and a few of us were just recently together talking about our next chapters in life—how many more things we had to accomplish and look forward to. I was blessed to know her and have her in my life and I know I speak for so many who miss her terribly. I/We will NEVER forget her.

There’s a group of us organizing an effort to place a memorial bench, plaque and trees near the Y and Northaven Trail. I look forward to that.”

PN: What kind of person was Leslie?

LaCour: “This has been so hard to lose a friend like Leslie. She was truly a treasured friend – she was a one of a kind gem! She was always thinking of others. She truly took an interest in you. She loved life, she was happy,  she loved helping others.

She was thoughtful, kind, sincere, she was passionate about women’s health issues. Leslie was funny and had a great sense of humor, and was a go-getter! She would find a cause or something she believed in and worked to make a difference. Leslie never met a stranger. She took a genuine interest in her friends and their lives.”

Lyman: “Kind, generous, confident, thoughtful, happy, with a big dash of fabulous humor all tied up in a gorgeous bow! She was always up for something fun, always organizing an event, dinner or a happy hour.

She was always introducing people to one another. She was hands-down the best networker I’ve ever known!

You wanted to get something done? Get Leslie Baker involved. She was a true, respected leader in every aspect. If Leslie told you she was going to do something, she did it. No excuses—it got done. The loss is immense to so many people whose lives she touched.”

Buell: “Leslie loved and adored her family and was a proud, supportive and loving wife and mom to Catherine and Robert Jr. She beamed when she talked about what they were up to. Catherine graduated from the University of Arkansas, her alma mater, and Robert pursuing his military education as a member of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. They were both her pride and joy!

Leslie was a creative marketer, talented, bright, and understood how to communicate and help others in business and in life. She would connect people and was always asking ‘How can I help and support you?’ – never  expecting anything in return. She was the most selfless person that I truly have ever known. She had that innate ability to connect people.

She saw only the positive and good in every person she met. I never ever heard her say an unkind word about anyone. EVER! And that’s saying so much because I called her a dear friend for over 25 years. She was a true and loyal friend.”

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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