Friday, October 15, 2021

A community’s Tribute:
Warsaw remembers Stephen Baker, teacher, coach, son, husband, father

Brian Quinn/Daily News Photo & Story.
The Rev. Ryan Rovito leads the family of Stephen Baker to Thursday's memorial on the soccer field of the Village Park in Warsaw. Stephen Baker was a popular teacher, coach, and community supporter was killed in a car crash in Mount Morris on October 5, 2021.

Stephen Baker loved people, one of the speakers at his memorial Thursday afternoon said. The number of family members, friends, co-coaches and co-workers who gathered on the soccer field at Warsaw Village Park showed that the feeling was mutual.

“The purpose of this gathering is to cherish his memory, grieve his absence and celebrate his legacy,” said the Rev. Ryan Rovito as the memorial began. “May we find comfort from family and friends, encouragement from the memories of Steve’s life and hope in the eternal God — who holds us, cares for
us and provides us his grace and peace.”

Moments earlier, Rovito had led the Baker family to its seats in the first row. The stage he and others spoke from was adorned with a wreath and a few bouquets of flowers, each of which bore a ribbon that said “Daddy,” “Loving Husband,” “Loving Son,” “Brother,” “Brother-in-Law,” “Uncle” or “Nephew.”

Stephen Baker. 41, passed away Oct. 5 in a car crash in Mount Morris. He was a graduate of Genesee Community College who earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Roberts Wesleyan College and his master’s degree in reading literacy from Buffalo State College.

He was an elementary school teacher at Warsaw Central School for 19 years and was a major part of the athletic program, recently serving as the junior varsity volleyball coach. Baker also served as the varsity basketball coach and coached the junior varsity and modified basketball teams. He had also coached the modified baseball team. Baker also ran the youth basketball program at the school.

In the community, he was president of the Youth Baseball Board in Warsaw. He was involved in coaching all of his children’s activities. He and Janelle had three children — daughters, Kinsley and Delaney, and son, Lennon. Baker was an active participant in the Valley Chapel Free Methodist Church in Warsaw and was an avid Duke Blue Devils fan.

It was an emotional time for many of the speakers. When Baker’s wife of 14 years, Janelle, came to the podium, she said the first thing she wanted to do was thank the community for the outpouring of love it showed the Baker family the past week. “It has been heartwarming. All of this is truly appreciated,” Janelle Baker said. Everyone keeps telling her there are no words so she decided to add her own, Janelle said, looking out at the gathering.

“To the world, you were just a man, but to me, you were everything,” she said of her husband.“When I met Steve, I had no idea how much my life would change. A love like ours happens once in a lifetime. When Steve came into my life, I realized that what I always thought was happiness could not compare to the love, joy and comfort Steve brought to my life,” she said.

Janelle said she often joked about the fact that, though Warsaw was her hometown, Steve was the local celebrity. “Anytime I would meet someone, they would say, ‘Oh, you’re Mr. Baker’s wife,’ and I would smile, for that title is the one I love the most,” she said. “Early in our marriage, we had always talked about having a big family. I wanted six children. He wanted two. So we compromised with three.”

When people tell her they’re sorry for her loss, Janelle said, she wants to reply with, “Which one? ... To me, Steve was my husband, the father of my children and my best friend,” she said. “That’s three losses in one. I know I cannot speak to the impact that Steve had on every person — just me. He gave me the best 16 1/2 — and yes, I include that ‘half’ — because, in circumstances like this, that is everything — years of my life.”

Stephen Baker’s parents, David and Cindy Baker, also came up to the podium. Cindy Baker said her son made himself who he was, often by the choices he made — “often tough choices, always good choices.” Steve came into the man he was, his mother said, when he came to Warsaw.

“He absolutely loved this town. He called it his town,” Cindy Baker said. “He loved the people, the small-town ways almost as much as he loved his family. Warsaw gave Steve his wife — our Janelle — and, together, they blessed us with three beautiful grandchildren ...”

Warsaw gave Steve his teaching position, but what many didn’t know was, on the day he accepted the job at Warsaw, he was also offered a position with Honeoye Falls-Lima. “Steve opted for Warsaw and he never, ever looked back. He chose to be the best possible teacher he could be — loving, caring, but we’ve got to tell you, he also loved those snow days,” Cindy Baker recalled as some in the audience laughed.

Steve’s sisters, Corissa Goodenbery and Stacie Gell also came up before the crowd and Gell shared some remarks. She said sibling rivalry was never the case with her, Corissa and Steve.

“We all, just truly and genuinely, enjoyed each other’s company. If you knew us growing up, Steve would often have one or both of us with him wherever he went, even as a teenager,” Gell said. “You might think that it was just his little sisters tagging along, but it was never that. We were there because he wanted us to be there with him and we wanted to be with him as well. We looked up to him for so many different reasons.” Those reasons, Gell said, included his kindness, sense of humor, his character and his success in life.

Matthew Hare, who coached Little League and youth basketball with Steve Baker, said when Steve arrived at the gates of Heaven, he would have heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Hare also described Steve Baker as the “yin to my yang.” He gave examples of how the two of them were opposites as coaches. Where Steve was cool and calm, Hare would be a little hotheaded, he said. Where Steve would be patient, Hare would be impatient. Where Steve would say to kids, “You got this,” Hare would say, “What are you doing?”

“You got this” became part of the theme for Hare’s thoughts about Steve Baker. He recalled Steve, as a coach, encouraging each of his kids by saying, ‘You got this.” Making a connection between that quote and what the Baker family is going through, Hare said, “I have to believe Steve is in Heaven, looking down right now, saying, ‘Come on Janelle, you got this.’”

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SILVER LAKE EXPERIENCE (SLE) - Registration now Open for this August 4-6, 2022's SLE. See:


Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.

Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.


Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.

Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.


"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.


Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”

Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.

Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.

Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.

Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.

Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.

A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit

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