‘She was selfless’: Former Yakima Valley College nursing instructor killed in hit and run

YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima Valley College students, staff and faculty are mourning the death of former nursing program instructor Wendy Baker, who was killed in a hit and run over the weekend.

“It’s a tragic situation,” YVC community relations director Dustin Wunderlich said. “Her loss is felt tremendously by our entire community.”

According to Yakima County sheriff’s deputies, the 66-year-old bicyclist was cycling on Summitview Avenue on Sunday morning when a pickup truck struck her and fled the scene.

No arrests have been made, but deputies continue to search for a pickup truck matching the description of the suspect vehicle: a maroon GMC Denali HD with damage to the front right side of the vehicle.

A memorial service for Baker has been scheduled for  2 p.m. on Friday, June 17th at The Seasons Performance Hall, which is located at 101 N. Naches Ave. in Yakima.

“She’s going to be remembered for her selfless service of other people, both here in college and beyond in the community,” Wunderlich said.

Baker was part of the nursing program faculty at YVC for 16 years — beginning in September 2003 — and served as the interim nursing director from 2019 to 2021.

YVC President Linda Kaminski released a statement to the campus community earlier this week, notifying them of Baker’s death and acknowledging her contributions to the college.

“According to one of her colleagues, ‘She was a great cook, a great mom, a mentor to students and colleagues and someone you could always rely on,'” Kaminski said.

Kaminski said the college is indebted to Baker for her leadership of the nursing program and the service she gave to both the state and local community.

“Wendy was well loved by her students and her colleagues,” Kaminski said. “Our prayers go out to her family and friends. She will be greatly missed.”

While Baker retired from YVC in 2021, she continued to advocate for and support local nursing students — including working with the Washington State Nursing Commission to get congressional funding for a licensed practical nursing program at YVC.

“Wendy was passionate about the education of future nurses,” Wunderlich said. “So she established the Wendy Baker Scholarship fund to support the education of future nurses.”

According to her obituary, Baker also volunteered at the Union Gospel Mission Medical Care Center, counseled patients as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and was an adjunct professor of nursing at the University of Washington.

The White Pass Ski Area shared a post on social media Tuesday, remembering Baker as a, “nurse practitioner, educator, healthcare advocate, and volunteer ski patrol member,” and acknowledging her “immeasurable” contributions to the community.

“Above all, Wendy has been a treasured friend and we will miss her terribly,” White Pass Ski Area official said in the post. “Our hearts go out to her family, friends, students, co-workers, and all who have had the joy of knowing her.”

In lieu of flowers, family members are requesting that community members donate to the Wendy Baker Scholarship fund to support nursing students at Yakima Valley College.

Donations can be made online here. Wunderlich said donors should indicate in the note section that they want their donation to go to that specific scholarship fund.

Wunderlich said donations can also be made with a check made payable to YVC Foundation-Wendy Baker Scholarship and sent by mail to YVC Foundation PO Box 22520 Yakima, WA 98907-2520.

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