Sunflowers for Izzy

The Ventura Breeze mourns the loss of one of our family. “Izzy” was the daughter of Ana Baker and stepdaughter of Jaimie Baker both part of our wonderful staff. The following was written by her parents.

It is with the greatest sorrow that we announce the passing of Isabella Mercedes Kress, our beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, and friend to so many. She is survived by her loving family: her parents Ana, Don, and Jamie; her siblings, Diego, Devin, Jack and Scarlett; grandmothers Carmen and Lucille; as well as many aunts and uncles and an extended family of her dear friends. She was known and loved by so many people from so many different walks of life including sports, music, dance, education, hospitality and her beloved culinary arts. Izzy loved life and lived it to the fullest in her short 22 years here on Earth. She was a truly special person― bright, passionate, fierce, funny, loving, and giving. She was all that a parent, sibling, or friend could ever ask for and more.

She left an indelible mark on the world through her love, loyalty, selflessness, intelligence, honesty, toughness, and incredible work ethic. She strived and succeeded in being among the best at everything she attempted. In grade school she distinguished herself early on as a star student, her talent shining through to high school where she was included in the Ventura High School Wall of Fame― a recognition given to only two or three students per year.

She loved to sing and perform at an early age and in high school she found a home in Company, the Ventura School District’s student show choir, ultimately becoming a prominent leader of the ensemble. She also distinguished herself as a member of the Track and Field team. Through her hard-work, loyalty and supportiveness of her teammates, she inspired coaches and teammates alike. Accordingly, she was voted captain of the track and field team during her senior year season.

Leaving home at the age of 18, she began her new life as an adult and absolutely thrived. She attended Cerritos Community College where she was recruited for the track and field throwing team. There, she mastered the shot put, hammer throw, and javelin and was a member of the 2017 CCCAA State Champion Falcon team. At the same time, she began to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a chef and teacher. She enrolled in the Culinary Arts Department, training in classical French cuisine. She graduated in 2019, earning her Associate in Arts Degree with Honors, along with a culinary certificate in professional cooking as well as professional baking and pastry.

Through tremendous hard work and determination, she maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA, along with earning numerous academic and athletic awards. Transferring to California State University Long Beach as an English major, she continued her academic excellence, again maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She even went on to publish two books of poetry during her busy days of studying. As always, she impressed her instructors― so much so that she was recommended for and hired as an instructor for the Bellflower School District as a teacher of culinary arts in an after-school program. Combining her deep love of cooking and teaching, she spent her first year with one class, and was about to begin teaching two classes for her second year. Her path almost certainly would have led her back to the Cerritos College of Culinary Arts as a full-time instructor, her “dream job”.

Throughout high school and college she also worked, sometimes holding down two part-time jobs in addition to being a full-time student. Like everything else, she took great pride in her work. Quoting one of her many choir solos, she loved to say, “I give good service but I’m not servile.”

She loved all kinds of music and dance, especially salsa dancing. She loved sunflowers and Sinatra, eating, running and traveling. She loved boba and pizza, but could just as easily cook a multi-course Thanksgiving feast for 20. She loved tiny food, and tiny animals. She loved baking and trying and perfecting new recipes. She loved creating cookies and beautiful cakes and cupcakes for friends. She loved the world and the world loved her back. More than anything, she loved the people in her life; her mentors, co-workers, classmates, students, friends and family, each with a huge heart full of caring, empathy, and generosity.

Although she has been taken from this Earthly confine, her spirit now knows no boundaries. She is a child of the universe and will live on in our hearts, forever inspiring us, making us smile and lifting us to higher, better places. Her family takes comfort in the outpouring of love towards her.

In lieu of flowers and to continue her legacy of giving and teaching and to promote academic and creative excellence, a memorial scholarship in Izzy’s name is currently being established in Izzy’s name and in conjunction with Ventura High School. Please contact Heidi House at [email protected].

Memorial services were held on Saturday, September 5 for Izzy at Ventura Harbor Cove Beach, located at the end of Spinnaker Drive. Attendees received a sunflower to place in the water and accompany her as she departs to her final rest at sea.
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