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Christina Baker McKenrick, 65, of Seekonk, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully on February 14, 2023 at the HopeHealth Hulitar Hospice Center in Providence, Rhode Island, after a noble, twelve-year battle with breast cancer. She was in the company of her family, hand-in-hand with her valentine and beloved husband of 44 years, Ross.
Early life, Education, Employment
Christina Baker was born and raised in West Islip, NY—on the South Shore of Long Island about an hour east of Manhattan by train. Her father, Ellsworth LeRoy Baker, was born in Belfast, ME, and raised in Cranston, RI. Her mother, Joan (Johnson) Baker was born in Boston, MA, and raised in various New England towns. They met at Brown University and settled on Long Island where he worked for Grumman Aerospace.
Chris attended school in West Islip. During high school, she worked part-time at the Olga Vazaar Dance Studio and attended dance classes. She graduated from West Islip High School in 1975 and then entered Brown University (where she met her husband, Ross). Graduating with an A.B. degree in American Civilization, she then worked for Wright Type. Here she was an administrative assistant for a typing instruction company run by Mona Wright in Providence. She then went on to work for the Brown University Admission Office as the computer systems coordinator and then for the Brown University Management Information Services Department. After taking several years to raise her children, she returned to the professional world teaching math and science at School One in Providence.
Marriage & Family
Chris’s husband, Ross, likes to recall that after attending all-boys schools during his formative years, he met Chris during orientation week at Brown. By the end of sophomore year, he fell deeply in love with her, and they’ve been a committed couple ever since. Having proposed to her multiple times during school, she agreed to marry him after graduation in September 1979 (she was 21, he 22). Ross continues to love and worship her to this day and will always, forever.
Ross and Chris never left the Providence area, eventually settling in Seekonk, Massachusetts. They moved only once from their starter home on Ledge Road to their current home on Walker Street. They raised three children of their own: Scott (b. 1983), Chuck (b. 1986) and Mida (b. 1988). Their family didn’t end there. In 2006 they took in a foster son, TJ (b. 1991), a student of Chris’s at School One. Having such a loving and nurturing soul, Chris extended her home to many others over the years—including relatives, acquaintances, and exchange students.
More recently, daughter Mida gave Chris two darling grandchildren: Ruth (b. 2018) and George (b. 2020). Mida lives with her husband Phillip in Corvallis, OR.
Scott and Chuck (along with his wife, Meghan) both live in Paonia, CO, and TJ lives in Providence, RI.
Chris's oldest brother, Richard, lives with his wife, Terry, in Bel Air, MD. Richard and Terry have three children, Lindsay and Sierra (twins) and Andrew, who live nearby. Chris also has a younger brother, Andy, who lives in the Providence area. Her youngest brother, Arthur, passed away in 1996.
Church, Mission, Caring
Chris and Ross were members of Newman Congregational Church, UCC in Rumford, RI for thirty years. Their children attended church school and participated in the youth groups there. Both Chris and Ross served on nearly all the boards and committees, notably Stewardship, Missions, Trustee, Deacon, Scholarship and more. In 2020, Chris and Ross transferred to their current church, Seekonk Congregational Church, UCC.
All who knew Chris know that she was defined by her sense of caring. At church, she was a very active member of the Missions Committee for years. She always advocated for Newman’s robust mission budget (based on the concept of “First Fruits”) and she did this for family budgeting each year as well. Her mission work at Newman led her to make multiple trips to Haiti with Daehler Hayes, Suzanne Swanson, and the RI UCC Haiti Task Force.
Her caring extended well beyond church. In addition to raising her children and foster son, she extended her heart and her home to countless extended family members and exchange students. Chris radiated her love and caring to everyone—and all reflected it right back at her.
Chris was also a leader in so many groups: Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Reading is Fundamental, Great Books and many school committees and advisory boards.
Gardening & Nurturing
On a recent visit to the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston, Ross bought Chris a mug with the quote: “My garden is riotous, unholy, deliriously glorious!”. Chris’s favorite hobby was “playing in the dirt” (as her husband characterized it). This involved cultivating flowers, vegetables, shrubs, trees—anything and everything that grew in her gardens (and sometimes out of her gardens, much to the dismay of her husband). In short, her home and her yard and her life was full of plants that she loved and nurtured.
Chris brought many pets into her home from her youth onward. In addition to many cats, there were three family dogs which must be mentioned: Princess (Labrador mix), Cinnamon (mid-sized terrier mix) and her beloved SuzyQ (Chihuahua-Pug mix). SuzyQ was always in her lap, except when she was sleeping in her bed by the firepace or spending “ramp time” with Chris in the sun on her back porch.
Dance, Music, Culture
Dance, primarily classical ballet, was an important part of Chris’s early life. She attended classical ballet studios in the West Islip area from a young age. This continued through her years at Brown University, where she also took modern and some jazz dance classes as well. Chris enjoyed recreational dancing with a passion and was often one of the first dancing at bars, concerts, weddings—wherever there was music.
And speaking of music, Chris and Ross came of age in the 1970s, the golden age of classic rock music. Chris was very proud of her record recollection, featuring David Bowie, Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, The Clash, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Frank Zappa, The Monkees, Neil Young, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, The Ramones… to name just a few. And, Chris loved to not just listen but dance…
Growing up in the New York City area, Chris’s parents often took her (and her siblings) to the great cultural institutions nearby such as the Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center and many more. Her passion for the arts continued throughout her life as she enjoyed so much of what the Providence-Boston metropolitan area had to offer. These included the RISD Art Museum, the Trinity Rep and Gamm Performance Theaters in Providence as well as the MFA, Isabella Stuart Gardner Art Museum and the Boston Ballet at the Wang Center in Boston.
Travel & Vacation
Chris grew up near the Fire Island National Seashore on Long Island, NY. She was known to exhibit her independence by hitchhiking, towel in hand, across the 4-mile causeway over the Great South Bay to join “the scene” at the Robert Moses State Park. When she was young, her grandmother (Mida Johnson) took her on a memorable trip to London which instilled in her a love for international travel.
Chris and Ross took their first significant trip together before they were married in the summer of 1978. They spent six weeks bicycling and camping in rural England. As the children were growing up, Chris arranged many memorable family trips (including Colorado-Wyoming, Europe-Tanzania, Alaska).
Later, Chris and Ross enjoyed two wonderful trips to Italy (Tuscany, Rome, Naples, Amalfi, Venice). After their 40th Wedding Anniversary, Chris and Ross spent three weeks in Paris, Normandy and Brittany. They visited museum after museum plus the D-Day Memorial at Omaha Beach (where Ross’s father landed on June 6, 1944).
Most recently, Chris and Ross rented an apartment in Corvallis, Oregon. This gave them a west-coast base near their daughter and grandchildren as well as a chance to embed themselves with their daughter’s extended West Coast family and friends. Ross bought a truck and tear-drop travel trailer. They lovingly named the trailer “Grace” and used it to explore roads, cities and parks all over the west. The culmination of these being an epic three-week “Retirement Victory Celebration Tour” in March, 2022. This trip took them through Oregon, Utah, Nevada and California.
Over the years Chris, Ross and their children also enjoyed repeated vacations with some of their closest friends. Locations including Wolfeboro, NH, Pointe-au-Baril, OT, Cape Cod, MA and Franconia, NH.
Chris and Ross’s “Happy Place” is Briggs Beach in Little Compton, RI. Here they would spend many long days and evenings that would draw to a close with dinners, sunsets and campfires.
Christina is survived by her husband, Charles Ross McKenrick also of Seekonk MA, three children (Scott McKenrick of Paonia, CO, Charles Ross McKenrick, Jr of Paonia, CO, and Mida Lorenz of Corvallis, OR), one foster child (Tanasith Martineau of Providence, RI) and two grandchildren (Ruth Lorenz and George Lorenz of Corvallis, OR), and two brothers (Richard Baker of Bel Air, MD and Andrew Baker of North Scituate, RI). Christina was predeceased by her third brother (Arthur) who passed away in 1996.
A celebration of Christina's life will be held on Saturday, March 4th, 2023 at 11 a.m. at the Seekonk Congregational Church, 600 Fall River Avenue, Seekonk, MA 02771. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Chris's memory can be made to a charity of your choice and/or one of Chris's many, including:
Arrangements are in the care of the Home of J.H. WILLIAMS & CO.