Her life was pure gift

From Todd Heifner
Co-Director, Hope Manifest

It was a Sunday in June, 2020 when Babs Baugh passed. Sunday, June 14 in fact, at 2:40AM this day–and word came early in the morning.

The longer I live, the more convinced I become that there are, in fact, angels living among us. Ones who give themselves over completely to family and friends, who encourage and love and commit to call and write in times of grief and in times of great joy. Ones who send photographs of special times spent together, and who pick up the phone to “just check in and see that you are doing well.”

Faced with the resources to do anything they desire, they choose presence as their primary mode–physical and emotional presence–by which they live their life.

God knows my life was only one of many lives touched by the angel among us named Babs Baugh. She was a force–fun and funny, sweet and swearing, beautiful and elegant, and as much at home among those who knew her as any person I have ever known. And attentive to others to a fault.

Babs was a wonderful organizer, and one who could out-plan and outwork nearly anyone in her circle. She simply never stopped. Babs just moved forward as by force of nature, organizing huge groups of people and compelling them by her example and her own energy. She did it with Baylor alumni, with Baptist activists, with scores who sang in her SonShine Singers, with her family of faith at Woodland Baptist in San Antonio, and on and on and on.

And yet she found time for me.

She was a successful business woman in her own right and multiple times offered me keen insight into our work at Hope Manifest. Never demanding, always directive. But sharing really good thoughts about how to organize, whom we might potentially serve, and how to structure our board.

Her life was pure gift. She lived it fully and changed the lives of so many by her attention to detail and caring for the personal concerns we each carried.

She and her husband John Jarrett walked with me through the darkest days of my life. They offered their home as a place of refuge, rest and renewal. They offered empathetic advice and counsel, and they offered to walk beside me and be my friend. They called me nearly weekly just to check in and see how I was fairing.

Their friendship was not lost on me then and it will never be lost or forgotten.

And all of this is before acknowledging the obvious–among the people with whom I have worked for nearly thirty years, she was simply the kindest, most generous philanthropist I have ever known. She and her daughters, Jackie Baugh Moore and Julie Baugh Cloud handled every request that came to them professionally, with respect and care and a keen sense of stewardship. And always with the thought that they were carrying forth an incredible legacy left to them by Babs’ parents–Eula Mae and John Baugh.

While there is so much I want to say about Babs and her influence on me, it will take time to consider the many, many ways she touched my life.

I am simply thankful that I ever came to know her and touch the wings of an angel here on earth.

About six years ago, Babs and John, Randy Edwards and I had the chance to see Willie Nelson together one night at Floore Country Store in Helotes, Texas. She knew Willie was my favorite singer ever and that Floore’s Store is considered his home venue across the years. It was a super warm evening and I wondered if it would be too much, too late, or even of little interest to her. True to form, however, Babs jumped at the offer for a good time and we all loaded up and shared a remarkably fun evening. We found our way to the third row, center aisle and I watched two things that night in rapt attention–one anticipated and the other in complete surprise–namely, 1) a genius octogenarian outlaw plying his craft on a well-worn Martin guitar, and 2) a giddy septuagenarian angel named Babs singing every single song, word for word, lyric for lyric, flawlessly.

I was floored! Especially given her formal training in music!

So, with apologies for the license taken to modestly change Willie’s lyrics to one of Babs’ favorite songs of his to make it inclusive of ALL who knew her, I offer the modified lyrics below of Willie’s “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground” as fitting tribute for the incomparable life of my friend and mentor, Babs Baugh.

My prayer is that now that she has taken flight, that she might “fly on, fly on past, the speed of sound . . . “

From Willie’s song:

“If you had not have fallen,
Then we would not have found you,
Angel flying too close to the ground.

You patched up our broken wings and hung around a while,
Trying to keep our spirits up and our fever down.

We knew someday that you would fly away–
For love’s the greatest healer to be found.
So leave us as you need to, we will still remember,
Angel flying too close to the ground.

Fly on, fly on past, the speed of sound,
We’d rather see you up than see you down.
So leave us as you need to, we will still remember,
Angel flying too close to the ground.

So leave us as you need to, we will still remember,
Angel flying too close to the ground.”

Godspeed Babs. All my love.