“Don’t give up,” urged R.V. Baugus, journalist, editor, and author. “Once you give up, you’re defeated. It’s a desolate place to be. It’s an unhealthy place to be. It’s a lonely place to be. How many people who predate us did not give up? We have those examples. I want to be an example for others.”
“I’m a people person. I’m very social,” R.V. said, so when his 8th grade buddy invited him to be part of his church’s basketball team, R.V. jumped right in. He made several important discoveries: he wasn’t very good at sports, but he was good at making friends, and he needed a relationship with God. These discoveries determined the course of his life.
When he entered high school, he took a journalism class and became an award winning sports editor of his school’s newspaper. He studied journalism at the University of Texas and was a staff sports writer for their publications. After graduation, he landed a job as a sports writer for the Denton Record Chronicle, where his press pass got him into high school sporting events, Dallas Cowboys’ home games, and Coach Tom Landry’s Tuesday press conferences. “It was a blast!” R.V. recalled.
A combination of talent, hard work and connections with influential people, helped R.V. become the senior editor of Venue Professional (VP) magazine, a position he has enjoyed for the past 20 years. He is a 12-time Quill award winner and a Silver Quill recipient. He is also the announcer of Irving ISD’s Nimitz high school football and basketball games. “I’ve really been blessed in my career,” R.V. said. “I’ve interviewed members of the Harlem Globetrotters, Disney on Ice, and World Wrestling Federation. It’s been fun.”
“When I was the news editor, Tanya Bailey was the receptionist. She stole my heart. On May, 12, 1988, I took her out to Campisi’s for pizza and downtown to Fair Park Coliseum to an indoor polo match. We got married May 12, 1990, two years to the date,” R.V. recalled. They bought a house and settled down, eager to start a family. R.V. was on top of the world in a job he loved, with the woman he loved, in a life he loved. But their dream was shattered when they discovered they were unable to have children. After years of painful and expensive infertility treatments, they decided to adopt. A teen mother in Houston chose them to be her baby’s parents, but after the baby was born, she changed her mind. R.V. and Tanya, who had rushed to the Houston hospital full of hope, made the long drive home to an empty nursery. “Tanya would have made a wonderful mom,” R.V. said. “Tanya and I were in a dark place when the adoption blew up. It took us years to fully rebound.” Reluctant to face the painful questions and pitiful glances from well-meaning friends, R.V. and Tanya retreated from church and community. “It was a difficult time. People mean well. We knew God would do nothing to hurt us. But it hurt. It took us a while to shake off the cobwebs and get back into the body of Christ and the fellowship that we all need.” Little did they know how much they would need their friends in the days ahead.
In 2007, R.V.’s brother died from a massive heart-attack. He was only 48. “That led a string of family deaths. My stepmom passed away in 2009, my mother-in-law in 2010, my mom in 2012, my father-in-law in 2014, and then Tanya passed away on January 30, 2015.” The string continued with his father in 2020, and a beloved family pet in 2021. “I don’t think at the time when these losses were taking place that I was thinking about the subject of grief, or identifying it, or that grief was something essential for people to go through. I don’t recall how I processed those until I got to Tanya.”
Tanya passed away at the age of 48. She went in on a Friday for an angiogram, an ordinary day surgery. She took a People magazine to read in recovery, and worried if R.V. would get hungry before she was done. “They performed the angiogram, and she had massive blockage, 100%. She was a walking heart attack,” R.V. recalled. “They put two stents in. At that point, something happened. She became unresponsive. They tried CPR, they eventually put her on life support. They couldn’t bring her back. I saw these doctors working on her trying to get a heartbeat, but she was gone. I walked out of the hospital that day, certainly not expecting to be a widower, but I was. Somehow, I drove myself home that night–I don’t even remember how. It was an immediate different world.”
This time, R.V. handled his grief differently. Instead of avoiding people, R.V. sought them out. “Sunday morning, I was at church, less than 48 hours later. I sat on the back row, in case it became too emotional and I needed to leave. Of course, it did. I don’t even remember the first song, but as soon as it started, I went wailing out into the hallway, and cried. Some guys came out and met me, and we prayed. I was very thankful. At that point I knew I needed help. It was a crazy string of events that got me to a class called GriefShare. I’d never heard of it, but it was something God knew I needed,” R.V. recalled. There he learned to lean into God’s promises of a prosperous future filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11). He learned that “No one can tell you how to control your grief, because it is incredibly unique and personal. No two people grieve the same way.”
“I’m thankful that I came to the realization that this heartbreak did not mean I was being picked on or singled out,” R.V. said. “Each and every one of us has gone through grief, in some form. There’s often a point of genesis where something begins that steels you–hardens you–for future grief episodes, for losses that you’re going to encounter. We’d all be better to shed a few more tears. There have been many of those that have poured out of my eyes over the years. We are given tears for all seasons and all reasons.”
In the GriefShare class, R.V. was comforted to share his struggles with others who were also grieving. “There was a lady there whose husband passed away two months before my wife passed away. We were on the same grief track.” After the class ended, both signed up to take the class again, as people are encouraged to do. “We talked, we prayed, we dated, we got to know each other better. A couple of years after that, we married. Her name is Charlotte. She is a beautiful wife. She gave birth to a son and daughter, and has 5 grandchildren, and I got an immediate family. When God is at work, there’s nothing accidental. Some of the things that are truly tragic in our lives, in the end, are still made to bring glory and honor to God. I’m just blown away by the Lord’s gifting me and blessing me. It’s a beautiful story,” R.V. said.
Now R.V. and Charlotte lead GriefShare classes at their church. “Since we started our semester of GriefShare, we have led eight 13-week cycles of GriefShare, 104 nights of classes in a room with fellow grievers. It’s our opportunity and our way to minister and support them as they’re going through their grief journey. Hopefully I’ll have many years to continue to do that.”
As part of his healing process, R.V. decided to write a book about his life with Tanya. Proceeds from the sale of the book, Saint, Servant and Soulmate: The Loving Legacy of Tanya Baugus, support the Tanya Baugus Memorial Scholarship Fund to benefit couples who attend weekend marriage retreats presented by Tanya’s former employer, Coaches Outreach. “It’s nice to see where I am now, and how I’m helping others. I’m happy that it came to be,” R.V. said.