Tanya Renee Baugus
1966 - 2015

Tribute by Mary Payne

Tanya was one of the kindest, sweetest persons ever and her untimely demise is very hard to bear. Chris and I always wished that there were fewer miles between us and we could see more of each other.

We first met in 2001 in her home state of Texas. The internet was in its infancy and we had recently discovered (via John Platt) that the WWII shipmates of the USS Density had been holding reunions since 1964. Tanya's father Laverne (known as Verne) was one of those shipmates and his family was organising the 2001 event in Dallas.

Tanya was so happy that we, and original Radio London founders Ben Toney and Tom Danaher, could attend and would be giving a presentation about the later life of the USS Density as the mv Galaxy. The USS Density family is a very special one and the bond between everyone attending was the beloved ship known as 'The Mighty Little D'.

Chris and I arrived at the Dallas hotel on September 10th to allow us to recover from jet-lag before the reunion. On the next day, the tragedy of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre unfolded. Aware that we knew nobody in Texas and faced uncertainty about being able to return home, Tanya and her parents made us so welcome. Her mother, Marie, adopted us into their family. They always told us that they loved us and we called Tanya 'Little Sis', while she called us 'Big Sis' and Bro-in-Law'. We also enjoyed meeting our new bro-in-law, Tanya's husband R.V., a man with a great sense of humour.

Afterwards, Tanya emailed to say:
"Mom and Dad wanted me to pass along to you how much they enjoyed meeting you both and being with you at the reunion, and that they hope you will keep in touch with all of us. Mom said she didn't know when she left for the reunion that she would be coming home with a new son and daughter, but that she couldn't imagine welcoming anyone nicer into our family! :)"

We saw Tanya in 2002 when she made a flying visit to London en route to a Scandinavian business trip. She and I had a great day out in the city that she had always wanted to see, visiting the Tower of London and other landmarks. Tanya was so overwhelmed that when she saw the River Thames, she cried. We enjoyed afternoon tea at Harrod's where, being a huge fan of Star Trek, Tanya followed the example of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and ordered "Tea, Earl Grey, hot"!

The next day, Chris and I took Tanya on a tour of our local countryside, where she was particularly taken by Hughenden Church. We also visited West Wycombe Hill and the church at the top. We so wished that Tanya could have stayed for longer.

Our next two meetings were not until we attended subsequent USS Density reunions in Branson, Missouri in 2003 and San Antonio, Texas, in 2007.

I last saw Tanya in May 2008, when I visited Fort Worth on my own to attend the premiere of Grey Pierson's film, "Swinging Radio England - a Tale of Pirates Texans and Teenagers'. Tanya came as my guest and we enjoyed the film and Grey's hospitality and saw each other on nearly every day of a wonderful week.

Ron Buninga, the son of the mv Galaxy's captain Bill, who had been instrumental in returning the ship's bell to the WWII shipmates, emailed us to break the terrible news of Tanya's passing. The photo on the left is Tanya and her husband R.V. at the presentation ceremony of the USS Density bell to the Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, in 2007.

Chris and I are deeply saddened to have lost a dear and loving friend at such a young age. We have so many happy memories of Tanya and the enjoyable times we shared, even though they were all too few. We shall treasure the gifts she gave us, one of which is the Christmas wreath that always adorns our front door during the festive season. Will always miss our unforgettable 'Little Sis'.

Tanya particularly liked this inscription on a headstone in a churchyard we visited