Rachel Leigh (Gentsch) Baynard

Rachel Leigh (Gentsch) Baynard

Loving, kind, empathetic, nature-lover

Rachel was a generous, funny, free spirit with a contagious laugh. She was loving and kind with empathy for others, which matched her chosen career as a critical care nurse. She loved her profession and regularly spent time studying to increase her knowledge base. Rachel didn’t limit her care for people to her professional life. She reached out to people on the street or those she heard about from friends and did what she could to help.

Rachel exhibited the same care and attention to animals as people. She once found a baby bird and tried to save it by providing worms and keeping it warm. “When she was looking for a dog,” her mom Sue said, “she would go to the shelter and bring home the dog that had the least chance of being adopted.”

Rachel loved cooking, experimenting with new recipes, and being in nature. She fell in love with the sea on a beach trip and visit to Disneyland and went to the beach near her parent’s house as often as possible. Rachel was also an athlete. She ran daily to train for the two half marathons she took part in and attended fitness classes every day.

The family had a big celebration when Rachel graduated from college, which was also the day she got engaged to her future husband, and the love of her life, Joseph. They had two children whom she adored, son Mason, now 16, and daughter, Addison, now 14. “She was a wonderful wife and mother,” Sue stated. “She loved being a mom.”

The family was shown a video of Rachel at work with one of her best friends as they were doing a variation of the “Chubby Bunny” challenge. It required that you eat six saltine crackers without a drink while trying to say, Chubby Bunny. They laughed through it all. The friend shares the video on social media annually in memory of Rachel.

Rachel’s disease made her feel ashamed and hopeless. She felt she was unimportant to the world and her family and suffered from depression. It wasn’t like her, but she eventually became argumentive with her sisters, Tara and Emily, and others in the family. “Seeing a once vivacious and loving person with that infectious laugh change into a depressed and hopeless person brought sadness and grief to the family,” her mother reported. “It also made us appreciate what we have and how fragile life is.”

Rachel’s family loves her and always considered her valuable. ‘We always knew that substance use disorder was a disease, not a character flaw,” her mom said. Everyone who knew her misses her smile, laugh and love of life. Her family has now become involved in causes that involve addiction.

Rachel’s mother, Sue Gentsch, provided the information for this narrative.

March 25, 1983-July 19, 2013-Age 30

Portrait Artist: Theresa Clower

Narrative Writer: Barbara Francois

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