December’s Member Spotlight shines on Tab and Crystal Baer! Thomas Alan Baer (Tab) was born to Robert and Jeanne Baer on April 23, 1959. He is the second son in a family of 4 boys, and they have a “baby” sister, Melissa, who lives in Jacksonville. Tab’s family moved to Canal Blvd. in Palm Valley in 1962. His father soon opened up Baer’s Auto Service and worked there until his retirement in 2004. Money was tight, so Tab developed a strong work ethic early in life. He grew up helping his father in the garage, working with R.D. West before school digging up palm trees to sell, doing tractor work at age 14 using his father’s tractor, mowing lawns, and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle. The family spent their leisure time together on their boat and most summer weekends they went camping at Goldhead State Park. They were all active here at PVBC. In 1979, Tab went to work for the City of Jacksonville Beach Electric Dept., now called Beaches Energy. By the time he was 20, he owned land on S. Wilderness Trail and had bought a new mobile home as a temporary residence while he saved up enough money to build a house. That’s about the time that he and Crystal started dating, so we’ll jump over to her story next.
Crystal was born in Raleigh, N.C. on October 11, 1961, the youngest child of Roy and Ruby Deese. Roy was an executive with Southern Bell, and Ruby was a stay-at-home mom at the time (Ruby was our Member Spotlight in May of this year). Crystal has 2 sisters and 1 brother. At the age of 9, Crystal’s parents finally broke down and bought her a horse, Sunlight. It was a life-changing dream-come-true for a horse-crazy girl like Crystal. She spent all of her spare time at the barn learning how to take care of her horse and taking riding lessons. Good thing, because 2 years later, Roy retired from Southern Bell after 33 years and the family relocated to Neptune Beach, where they bought a new house on Lighty Lane (where daughter Holly, Nate, and Addie Mae live now) and a barn was built in the back yard for Sunlight. That lasted for a couple of years until an ordinance prevented keeping horses in Neptune Beach. So Sunlight moved out to Greenfield Stables on San Pablo Road where many new friends and adventures awaited. Eventually Sunlight was moved to a stable in Palm Valley and Crystal worked at the barn in exchange for Sunlight’s board. When Crystal left for West Virginia to attend Meredith Manor Equestrian School, Sunlight enjoyed a year of early retirement in a pasture. Upon graduation, Crystal worked in various barns in the Palm Valley area training horses, teaching riding lessons, and doing general barn work. She and Tab began dating in 1981, and that same year she began working at Beaches Hospital as a ward secretary. She still enjoyed her horses but, by then, Tab had built her a barn and moved her 2 horses (yes, 2 by then) to an unused pasture on his parent's property. Tab and Crystal were married in 1983 at Beach United Methodist Church, where Crystal was a member. About that same time, Crystal accepted a job offer from a general surgeon, Dr. Jagadish, and spent the next 9 years managing his beach office. During those years, Tab built their first home, and their only child, Holly, was born. When Holly was 5, Crystal became an aerobics instructor, which eventually led to being the Fitness Director at the Lodge & Club in PV and also at First Coast Fitness. This allowed her the flexibility to spend more time with Holly, taking her to those many after school activities. In 1990, Tab and Crystal bought a larger piece of property on Canal Blvd., adjacent to his parent's place. The first building to go up was a barn. They lived in the loft of that barn during part of 1995 while Tab completed construction on their new house. Once settled in, Crystal began boarding horses and teaching riding lessons while still teaching aerobics. Spinning came to PV in 1999, and she became a certified Spinning instructor, never dreaming that nearly 20 years later she’d still be teaching and loving it so much! 2001 brought big changes as Crystal enrolled in the nursing program at FCCJ and spent the next 3 years studying hard, teaching aerobics classes, and keeping up with house and barn chores. Upon graduation in 2004, she worked the night shift at Baptist-Beaches on the Medical-Surgical floor. It was a challenging, yet very rewarding occupation, and she worked there for almost 9 years. Shortly after leaving that position she began helping her mother out at home and eventually Tab added on to their house and her mother moved in. For the next 2 years she took care of her mother (and a brand new grand baby!) full-time. When Ruby moved to a higher level care facility, and Addie Mae began going to the nursery part-time, Crystal once again began to enjoy her passion for horseback riding. Her new horse, SunDance, (named after Sunlight) AKA Mr. Horse, is beginning to mature and they are enjoying quiet rides in the woods together. Along with SunDance, Tab and Crystal’s furry and feathered family includes Elvis, a rescued donkey, 2 dogs, 4 cats, and 2 chickens. They enjoy early morning dog walks, trips to the mountains of N.C. and Cedar Key, and drives in the country. Tab enjoys fishing and puttering in his workshop. Crystal loves music, Celtic festivals, reading, jigsaw puzzles, riding, and fun times with her sister Dee, Holly, and Addie Mae.
As mentioned earlier, Tab has been active at PVBC for as long as he can remember. Now retired from Beaches Energy after 33 years, he is a “behind the scenes” kind of guy who works around the church as needed: building, repairing, trimming trees, doing tractor work, building playground equipment, working on the parsonage….you name it. Crystal was baptized here at PVBC on March 24,1985. She serves as the WMU President, sings in the choir, and was on the Parsonage Restoration committee. She is a substitute SS teacher, and enjoys being part of our unofficial decorating committee. They are both dedicated members of PVBC and feel truly blessed to be a part of the PVBC family of God!