Sarah Baisley — The Heroine Down the Road

Kathie GibboneyBy Kathie Gibboney      September 4, 2020

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Sarah Baisley — The Heroine Down the Road
Sarah Baisley with her German Shepard rescue dogs. Photo Courtesy Sarah Baisley
Sarah Baisley, a lustrous Old Canyon resident, was once overheard advising a friend, over a glass of wine, “You have to let go of fear, just let it the *#c% go. If you don’t let it go, you can’t do anything. That’s what I had to do when I fell and had to spend the night on the side of that mountain.” Fortunately for the populace, human, animal, and plant, she courageously hung on throughout the long night until morning when she was rescued after being advised to wave something white so the rescue helicopter could pinpoint her location.“That bra really came in handy,” laughs the resourceful lady. It should then be no surprise to find this same bravery evident as she once again, is stoically heroic during a crisis. This time she is not on a precarious mountain but on the front lines during these calamitous times of Covid, as a dedicated essential worker, serving the public. Throughout the pandemic, Sarah Baisley has proudly remained on the job at Pavilions Market in Marina Del Rey. In the wine isle no less. She recalls being on the job on March 13, 2020. “The store suddenly became very crowded, people were swooping through the place, grabbing supplies: water, toilet paper, frozen food, beer, a lot of wine, hand sanitizer, snacks, and we all wondered what was gong on. Then I looked at my phone. The ‘Stay at Home order’ had just been announced.” Asked if she had concerns about continuing to work during a pandemic, she explained, “There was just something…this strong feeling that my co-workers and I were in this together, sharing a comraderie. If they were going to show up, I was going to show up. We would support each other. We were a team. And we were essential.” Immediately, management stepped up to support staff and customers. Great efforts were instituted throughout the store to ensure safety precautions were followed. Employees, vendors, and delivery people were screened daily, and testing was provided if they presented symptoms. Special funding was made available for anyone needing to be quarantined. Extra cleaning crews were brought in, hand sanitizers were everywhere. Shoppers were limited in number, distanced, and asked to wear masks. Although Sarah noticed some people keeping their distance because she worked in a market, in hindsight she wonders if perhaps it wasn’t the safest place to be. Shoppers were lucky to have her. Seeing people at their most vulnerable brought out her nurturing nature. “I saw the terror and frenzy in people’s eyes when they began to see the empty shelves. This was something new and it made it all suddenly real. They were so disappointed and scared when they couldn’t get milk, or water or toilet paper. I tried to help them remain calm as the whole crew was running, putting out new deliveries as fast as they could get the items on the shelves. It was a race to try to get toilet paper into people’s grateful hands. All the customers were thanking us, and we felt very much appreciated. At one time, I had to spirit some toilet paper out the door for a neighbor, who had paid for it, of course, but kept it hidden because it was such a coveted item. When I presented our great neighbors, the Rhodes, with the valuable rolls, Dawn said, ‘Thank you, Sarah. You saved our ass.’ I was happy to do it.” It is evident that Sarah thrives on dealing with the public. She admits to an early desire to be an actress, but journalism won out. A self-described Valley Girl, daughter of a rocket scientist father and a mother who worked in the art department of prestigious Esquire Magazine, Sarah graduated from CSUN with a journalism degree and a minor in economics. Combining beauty, bravery, brains, and a somewhat bawdy sense of humor, her various careers and accomplishments seem enough for several lifetimes. She has served as Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, an online professional magazine, where she produced weekly and daily newsletters serving the animation and visual effects industries, reaching 155 countries. She headed publicity at Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-spears, Southern Star and Roman Studios. Once, when a director didn’t show up, she was drafted to direct. Baisley is also a founding member of Woman in Animation and a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, moderating panels about the animation and visual effects industries. Then there’s wine. Having always been an aficionado, she considered her place in that heady world. Holding a SOMM 1 and WSET 3 certificates, she pondered growing wine, becoming a wine distributer, serving wine, selling wine, then accepted a prestigious position to help build and run the elite wine department at the Pavilions in Malibu (mentioning Pierce Brosnan as one of her satisfied customers). Now, the wine specialist in the Marina store, she is still a crowd pleaser not only for her vast varietal knowledge, but for her continued, spirited good will. As a friend, I’ve experienced the pleasure of her expert help in the store’s wine aisle as well as at her home where she is a charming sommelier with a generous pour. Adding a festive touch to her professional work uniform, by donning a shamrock headband for St. Patrick’s Day, or bunny ears on Easter, and sporting a fancy tie, she brings a smile to people’s faces during these unprecedented times. A customer, wine bottle in hand said, “Thanks for what you do. When I see you, it feels almost normal again.” Aptly labeling herself a retailer and journalist of wine and spirts, she has written for several magazines, including Cheers and Organic Foods, as well as having her own website, SarahWineEvangelist.com. Musing over what keeps her going and from whence she draws her strength, she responds, “Topanga. It’s coming home here. I can sit in our yard and see our trees and breathe our air.” She smiles like a kid while petting the two beautiful white rescue German Shepherds, she and her partner, Dr. Christopher Harz, share and love. Harz recalled a time when, “I didn’t think anyone should get engaged until they have traveled together. In Hawaii, Sarah got rain drenched, her hair stringy with humidity and we got lost in a rain forest…it didn’t matter to her. It was all an adventure. You can’t believe how rare that is.” He is also grateful for her expert help editing and proofreading his just published book, The Road Ahead, Protective Business Measures In The Age of Covid-19, (available on Amazon). A customer, Peggy Levenstien, who has known Sarah for three years sums up, “She’s bright, funny, personable, knows my palate preferences, and has a memory like no other. During the pandemic she’s really risen. She’s calm, even, and goes beyond anything her job description could ever cover. I’ve been recovering from surgery and she still keeps me in mind with special, very good deals. She also checks in to see how I’m recovering. There is so much to Sarah, so multifaceted, so interesting. At a minimum you will find someone who provides outstanding service. And if you are lucky, you will come to call her friend.” Down that long road ahead will come a time when we can all breathe freely again, and hug and laugh and toast to happy birthdays, while children go safely off to school. These days of Covid will be gone and we will want to forget them, but we will not forget the rare and wonderful people who stepped up to help us through them. Thank-you, Sarah Baisley. Eyewitness News’ coverage of the couple’s mountainside rescue where Sarah, Chris, and a friend, hiking after dark, slipped down the side of a mountain, and weren’t rescued until morning, can be viewed at: ,youtu.be/EPg--lRGOXs
Kathie Gibboney

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