Warren and Christina Baham were old-school New Orleanians, both of them born and reared in the 7th Ward, both church-going, duty-bound, stand-up citizens.
In their prime, before retirement and some degree of disability, he made his living as a mail carrier and she was a secretary in the sociology department at the University of New Orleans. He was a graduate of the Straight Business School; she went to Delgado.
They lived together in Pontchartrain Park, in a three-bedroom house with curtains that changed with the seasons and a living room full of fancy furniture fitted out with plastic covers. They celebrated their anniversaries at Piccadilly Cafeteria.
Warren Baham was "a noble man, a fine man, a Christian man," said Mildred Mossy, Warren's sister. "He helped people. He followed the rules. He respected the rules of this country. He didn't take shortcuts. He paid his bills, he paid his taxes. And he would always instruct young people to do right.
"Christina, she was my girlfriend. My brother married my girlfriend. She had a beautiful personality, a beautiful character. She was smart, good, kind, a wonderful sister-in-law."
To Licia Moody, Christina was also an aunt. But, Moody said, she was the kind of aunt who was more like a second mother -- a lifelong pal who got her out of scrapes, took her side and always had a hearty laugh ready when her niece felt playful.
"As I got older," Moody said, "my mother, my aunt and I would go on little Saturday outings. We'd go to a shopping center -- Lakeside, usually, or Carrollton -- and from there we'd go to Schwegmann's. And we'd go to lunch, too -- the Red Lobster or a Chinese restaurant or sometimes we just ate in the mall."
In retirement, the Bahams indulged in their favorite pastimes. For Christina, it was soap operas.
"That was her thing: television," Moody said. "She had a big-screen TV in her living room and if she couldn't watch her soap operas, she recorded them."
Warren took up painting -- religious scenes, mostly, that he would render on plaster tiles and hang in the garage.
"My brother was an artist," Mossy said. "He made beautiful art -- Moses and Elijah and beautiful pictures of Christ.
"On his picture window, he had two praying hands. He made shutters for his windows and every one of them had something painted on them. You'd go in the garage and you'd see them all over. Oh, Lord have mercy, my brother was a smart man."
When Christina grew ill, her husband cared for her conscientiously, the way he did everything.
"He waited on her hand and foot," Moody said. "He washed her feet, he put her stockings on, he'd fix her breakfast, fix her lunch, make the groceries."
Moody talked to her aunt about 2 in the afternoon on the Sunday before Katrina and Mossy talked to her brother about an hour later. They made one last effort to persuade the Bahams to evacuate before the storm. But their efforts were in vain.
It isn't clear when exactly, but Warren and Christina Baham died in Pontchartrain Park -- she inside the house, he just outside, probably in an effort to find help.
"When they first let us back into the city, we went to the house," Moody said. "We had to figure out what the symbols meant. We finally figured it out: 1D -- one dead."
But in fact, it was two. Two upstanding citizens of New Orleans, as Mildred Mossy would say.
"I lost something, baby. I lost the best thing I had," she said, with a touch of anger in her voice. "And nobody can give it back to me."
Published in The Times-Picayune.
Christina Mary Baham, a victim of Hurricane Katrina. Beloved wife of the late Warren Baham. Daughter of the late Andrew Sr. and Delphine Reeves. Sister of Andrew Reeves, Jr., Charlie Riveria and the late Marion Mary Reeves Roche. A second mother to Licia Moody and Michael Moody. A sister to cousin, Shirley Frederick and godmother of Sylvester Chapman. Stepmother of Wanda Ann Baham McIntyre. Sister-in-law of Audrey Baham (late Henry J. Sr.) Braud, Evonne (James) Yarbrough of Oceanside, CA, Mildred Baham Mosses, Dalton (late Angelina) Baham and George (late Joyce) Baham. Christina is survived by a host of nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. Relatives and friends of the family; parishioners of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, University of New Orleans Department of Sociology and Pontchartrain Park neighbors are invited to attend the Memorial Service on Friday, February 17, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. Visitation 10:00 am. in the Parlor of CHARBONNET-LABAT FUNERAL HOME, 1615 St. Phillip Street, (504) 581-4411. Interment St. Louis No. 3. Published in The Times-Picayune on 2/16/2006.