July 29, 1952 – July 7, 2019
It is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my beautiful wife Nina. We were married over 47 years and essentially grew up together. Over the past year, she suffered from radiation-induced enteritis, causing intestinal bleeding and cryptogenic liver disease. The irony is that the radiation treatments were intended to prevent a third recurrence of endometrial cancer that started six years earlier. The cancer was cured. In this case, the cure was worse than the disease.
Nina was the love of my life and my best friend. She was kind to all she met, and treated others the way she wanted to be treated. She fiercely loved her children and grandchild and was fond of saying, “You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child.” She was an accomplished actress and voice talent, yet she felt her daughter and son were her greatest achievements.
Travel was one of her favorite passions, and together we traveled the world, visiting countries in six continents. She had many favorite places to visit, destinations she called her “Happy Places”, including Diamond Head in Hawaii, Port Denarau in Fiji, and Bali in Indonesia. However, her most favorite vacations were when we traveled with the children and subsequently, the grandchild.
She was the Yin to my Yang and smoothed out my rough edges enough to make me presentable to the world. She infused me with her love of theater and the movies and could pick out obscure actors’ names seemingly out of thin air. Her outer beauty was surpassed only by the depth of her inner beauty. To paraphrase a movie line, she completed me.
The world is a little worse off today than yesterday. Nina, I will love you forever. The kids will love you forever. Everyone’s life you touched will love you forever.
Some highlights of her life:
She was the voice of “Strawberry Shortcake” and “Blueberry Muffin” on Kids Stuff Records.
She loved acting and won a Carbonell award for The Silver Chord, earning her a place in the Actor’s Equity union.
She acted in a cult movie called Blood Stalkers, playing the “first woman”. She (and Dan) also had bit parts in Black Sunday.
We won our honeymoon, a 4-day, 3-night trip to the Bahamas aboard the MV Freeport, on a Wheel of Fortune style game at a church carnival at St. Stevens. We were down to our last quarter on the last night of the carnival and our number came up! The MV Freeport was a converted World War II liberty ship, nothing like the ultra-modern ships of today. It was a scow, but we thought it was magical.
She loved watching sports, particularly University of Miami football, but enjoyed watching all organized sports. We were in the stands when the ’72 Dolphins had their undefeated season.
She learned late in life (2 years ago) that she was adopted. Through a lot of detective work, she found her birth father’s and birth mother’s families (both deceased). The families welcomed Nina with open arms.
She was not what you would consider an adventurous person, but she would try almost anything once. She tried skiing with the kids, crashed multiple times, and decided it wasn’t for her. She told me that day, “Dan, you can ski with the kids, However, you MUST bring them back safely. I will sit in the lodge by the fire, drink hot chocolate, and wait for your return.” We did that arrangement for several years, until the kids grew up and moved away, with all of their bones and limbs in good working order, I might add.
In college, she was a spotter for University of Miami Hurricanes football. A spotter was the person watching the play and then pointing on a chart which player or players made the play for the announcer and the color commentator: a tackle, a run, a block, etc. Her color commentator was Roy Firestone who ultimately went on to ESPN as a sportscaster.
While in college, she worked in the Channel 4 (now Channel 6) newsroom and hung out with the news giants of the day: Ralph Renick, Tony Segreto, Dan Rather, and others. She dropped out of college in her third year, as she was already working in her major (communications) and we needed the money. She loved the U and regretted that decision greatly. Several years later, I gave her a Christmas present of a “scholarship” to complete her degree at Miami. She ended up graduating as “Student of the Year” and received the award from then president Donna Shalala.
For decades, she read and recorded magazines at Insight for the Blind for the Library of Congress. These audio books were distributed to the blind and sight impaired. Every once in a while, one of the people who had listened to her audio would meet her. The person would feel her face to “see” his or her benefactor. Nina was thrilled by those encounters.
At Insight for the Blind, Nina was called the “Stunt Reader”, because she could cold read passages with tongue-twisting and foreign words. She received most of the hard assignments, which she loved.
Nina was somewhat of a procrastinator and would often wait until the last possible minute and beyond to complete a task. However, she never missed a deadline despite impossible odds, whether it was Christmas gifts, Thanksgiving dinner, or any myriad of time-sensitive events. One exception was Christmas cards. She would send them out sometimes days after Christmas. Ultimately, she gave up and just stopped sending them.
Nina was deeply religious, and we shared many friends at St Andrew church, where Nina and I were Eucharistic Ministers and Lectors. We also belonged to several ministries and enjoyed the camaraderie that volunteerism brought to us.
Nina truly believed in giving “Time, Talent, and Treasure”. She would say, “Anyone with a checkbook can give treasure, but time is a commodity we don’t know how much of it we have. It is our greatest gift.”
The Nina you know today is much more even-tempered than the early Nina. She had a fiery temper that she attributed to being half-Italian (her adoptive mother was born in Rome, Italy). Later, when DNA testing reveled her British-Irish-Scandinavian background, she decided it must have been the Irish in her.
She originally wanted to be a marine biologist but decided against it when she found out marine biologists had to scuba with fish. She did don scuba equipment for the first time a few years ago to swim with whale sharks in the Georgia Aquarium. Initially, she was terrified, and gripped my hand so tightly, I still have marks to this day. She calmed down eventually and just loved the experience.
We never went to bed angry. When asked to what do we attribute our long marriage to, we would say, “…to the fact that we don’t own guns,” to which she would add, “But I’d be out of prison by now.”
One of her favorite phrases when I did something stupid was, “I fixed you, I married you and gave you children...the gift that keeps on giving (and taking).”
Nina has had many jobs over the years including voice actor, secretary, service representative, cookie designer, and bank clerk, to name a few. But her most favorite job was flight attendant for National Airlines (National merged with Pan-Am, and then Pan-Am went out of business). The airlines preceded children, so we were able to take advantage of our wanderlust. We’d fly to New York to see a play, to New Orleans for dinner, or to Los Angeles to visit a movie set. Later, she became pregnant with our first child and she was forced to go on leave and ultimately forced to resign. The union filed a class action discrimination suit that became a landmark labor case. Because Nina’s last name was alphabetically the first plaintiff, the suit became Baeza, et al, in the decision. Years later her son, who was studying law, studied her case as part of his curriculum. He could not have been prouder.
Nina packed a whole lot of living in her too short life. She was a wife, a mother, and actress, a world traveler.
Every life she touched was made better by the experience.
We were all better off with her in our lives, and the greatest way of carrying on her memory is to live by her example: Treat others the way you want to be treated; use the gifts God gave you to improve the lives of others; and cherish every moment with family and friends.
- Daniel Baeza, Husband
- Olivia Pistorio, Daughter
- Jim Pistorio, Son-in-law
- Daniel Baeza, Son
- Austin Gray, Grandson
- Visitation Thursday, July 11, 2019
- Funeral Service Friday, July 12, 2019
- Committal Service Friday, July 12, 2019
July 12, 2019
This is a terrible loss. I got to know Nina at Insight for the Blind and worked with her there a few times. We shared some travel memories and became Facebook friends, I am shocked by her death and regret that I cannot attend her funeral. I am very sad for her family,
July 11, 2019
Dear Dan, Olivia, and Daniel,
I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of Nina. She was a lovely lady, and Dan’s tribute beautifully describes how deeply she was loved and treasured. You have my sincerest condolences, and I will keep all of the family in my prayers.
July 11, 2019
Nina was more than a cousin to me. When Mom passed away, I had Nina. She helped me get through the toughest time in my life.
She played an equally important role when my daughter was born. She kept saying how proud my Mom was and if I ever needed anything, she’s there.
So many wonderful memories over the years, so much love and friendship. You will always be in my heart. Give Mom a hug for me.
I love you,
July 11, 2019
I have very fond memories of having worked with Nina several years ago. She appeared in our play, God Knows, in Florida. Not only was she a great talent; she was a lovely person. So sorry to learn of her loss.
Shel & Randy Seidman
July 10, 2019
Nina was an amazing woman. A wonderful mother and a terrific friend. Our lives were forever enriched and brightened by knowing her. We'll miss her every single day.
July 10, 2019
I have had the pleasure of knowing Nina since our girls were in 2nd grade at St David’s Catholic school. They moved away for a while and we reconnected via Coral Springs cheerleading for the park. We would only talk occasionally but it was always as it was just yesterday. Her love of family and life will always be one cherished by many. A sweet, giving lady always. May God hold her in the palm of his hand and give her beautiful family strength to go on.
July 10, 2019
Pat and I have many great memories of fun we’ve had with Nina and Dan. Our many trips to Epcot for festivals, cruises in the Caribbean, trips to Key West for Parrothead “meeting of the minds”, concerts, plays and just hanging out. None of these things will be the same without her. Looking at all the pictures Dan has posted to this site gave me a feeling that hers was a life well lived though tragically cut short. Godspeed to her and her family.
July 9, 2019
Dan, my old classmate and family: Words can't express my thoughts to y'all about the extreme loss you have suffered. Since our days at Perry, I remember that Nina always had that smile on her face and such a warm caring personality. I remember meeting Oliva at the courthouse years ago and she clearly had both of your great traits. May God bless all of you during these trying times. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Feel free to contact me if I can do anything, my old classmate and friend.
July 8, 2019
I’ve known beautiful Nina for so many years, since our days at the Hollywood Playhouse. I had the pleasure of directing this incredibly talented actress on many occasions. But much, much more than that, she was a friend to me and to many: kind, warm, giving, loving and adventurous. She was totally devoted to her high school and forever sweetheart, her husband, Dan, her children, Olivia and Daniel, and her special love, her grandson, Austin. I am in North Carolina so cant be at the service but will be there in spirit. Rest In Peace, sweet lady. I will remember you with love.