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Memorial story

Quillarene Baker RiceQuillarene Baker Rice

From the time that she appeared on the planet, Monday morning, March 5, 1956, Quillarene Baker Rice has been a special jewel to all who knew her. The fifth child in a family of six children, she and her twin sister had a special way of communicating with a language all their own. She was born with many health challenges and endured open heart surgery as a young girl. However, these things could not stop her “Joi De Vive!” She was nick-named “Renie” by her siblings and called Baby Girl by her Mom. Renie graduated from Cardozo High School in Washington, D.C., June of 1974. Four years later, she graduated from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Later that fall she joined the Human Resource Department at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. There she served company employees as an Employee Relations Specialist. Renie was blessed with a great sense of compassion and used her gifts and employment skills to help others improve the quality of their life. She married Greg Rice and daughter Jonquille Marie Rice was born in 1982. Renie enjoyed traveling throughout the U.S. and even cruising the Caribbean. Some of the funniest times and most enjoyable occasions were during trips to exciting new places.

Quillarene was diagnosed with Primary Pulmonary Hypertension, (PPH) July 15, 1998 and prescribed twenty-four hour oxygen therapy. Initially, she was able to continue to travel to her office several times a week to continue her duties with the Agriculture Department. She had a daughter in high school and wanted desperately to see her graduate. Every day was cherished and handled with dignity. So much was relatively unknown about PPH so doctor visits were numerous. She learned to cope with around the clock oxygen therapy and the terminal prognosis of PPH.

Although the quality of her life was greatly diminished, she had the loving support of her mother, daughter, twin sister and other siblings to help her with daily tasks and occasional excursions. God granted her request to see her daughter graduate from high school. She also had the opportunity to travel out of state to set up her daughter’s dorm room! Renie stepped up her practice of giving pep talks to her god children, young nieces and nephews and encouraged them to do well in school.

After a year away at school, it was apparent that Renie needed her daughter home with her. The effect of PPH was making it difficult to go out to complete even mundane chores like grocery shopping and trips to the mall. Jonquille left school in Pennsylvania and enrolled in a local university so that she could be at home to help her mother. Renie longed to visit her family in North Carolina and Georgia so special provisions for oxygen were made. She had a wonderful final road trip visiting siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

During the last few months of her life, Renie had to work part-time from home, attend church sparingly and spend practically all of her other time indoors. Renie never lost her enthusiasm for life and was strengthened by her faith in God. She had the support of many loving friends and family and still managed to encourage the sick and shut-in she knew about with greeting cards and occasional telephone calls.

On Monday, December 17, 2001, Quillarene Baker Rice died at the age of forty-five at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland. She lived a total of 16,724 days and is deeply missed by a host of family and friends. The courageous way that she cherished her life is an example to all who knew her and we are forever changed. Giving The Next Breath Foundation (www.gtnbf.com) was formulated as a tribute to her life and is tasked with the assignment of increasing public awareness and improving the quality of life for those who suffer with PPH.

 

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The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) awarded PHA the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award in 2012 for outstanding service to PHA members in advocacy, education and other key areas.