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Stacy Wakefield had a passion for service that continued after husband Tim Wakefield's death

Stacy Wakefield had somewhere she needed to be.

Two months after her husband, longtime Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, died from cancer — and with the disease wreaking havoc inside her own body — she was back at Boston's Dana Farber Children's Hospital, delivering presents and some cheer to cancer-ailing kids days before last Christmas.

“To a lot of people she was Tim’s wife, but to us she was definitely her own powerhouse,” recalled Lisa Scherber, who has been the director of patient and family programs at Dana Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic for 31 years. “That described her to a T, it’s not what she needed to do at that moment. ... But that was her goal, make sure these kids felt joy.”

That joy gave way to more pain Wednesday when Stacy herself died at the age of 53. But for Scherber, it was a perfect example of the “Mama Bear” that Stacy was.

Stacy Wakefield remembered by Red Sox family

That spirit continued to be celebrated by the Red Sox on Thursday. They followed up social media tributes to Stacy on Wednesday with another prior to the the team’s spring training exhibition in Florida against Detroit.

The Red Sox observed a moment of silence before the first pitch, including a picture that appeared on the outfield video screen of Tim and Stacy along with a message that read, “We remember Stacy Wakefield.”

Former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, who won two World Series rings with Wakefield, was at the game and said Stacy’s death less than five months after Tim's put his thoughts immediately on their kids, Trevor and Brianna.

“I can only imagine, at my age now, losing both my parents in five months,” Lester said. “But I hope they know they have the family here with the Red Sox.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora, also a teammate of Wakefield, recalled a couple whose passions extended well beyond baseball.

“They were so big for us, not only on the field but off the field,” Cora told reporters Wednesday. “She was very strong. She was there for him and now we’re here for the kids and that’s the most important thing.”

Lester said Jason Varitek, the catcher and team captain for much of Wakefield’s time in Boston and now a Red Sox assistant coach, had returned to Massachusetts to help the family.

Stacy Wakefield 'put herself last’

The Christmas trips to Dana Farber were something the Wakefields made a family affair.

Brianna started accompanying her parents when she was around 7 years old.

Now in high school, she was by her mother’s side again in December.

“When Tim had passed, talking with both of them, they both still wanted to do Christmas,” Scherber said. “I was like, ‘OK, we’ll see how it goes. I don’t think that’s going to be top on your mind.’ And sure enough, the second week in December they texted me and were like, ‘Can we come in?’ And here they are, they come into the Jimmy Fund Clinic with gifts for everybody.”

Scherber was there that day and watched Stacy, herself “in a very tough time in her treatment,” linger in the background and sit as Scherber took Brianna around with Santa Claus.

“She was so compassionate, so caring and gentle with these kids," Scherber said. "I know she grew up doing this, but this was the first time she was doing it without her parents. ... When they finished I was talking to Stacy and she was beaming. That’s really who Stacy was. She knew this was important for Brianna to do. And she struggled to get in here and make it happen.”

Scherber has worked with Red Sox players and their families since she took her post in 1992, three years before Tim was signed by Boston.

She watched him meet Stacy in 2000, marry her two years later and then welcome their children, all the while cultivating a friendship with them that endured after Tim retired from the majors in 2012.

Together they became staples at Jimmy Fund events, often calling Lisa on their own to set up impromptu visits to “give love to anybody who needed it.”

Now, Scherber expects that torch to be picked up by their kids, particularly Brianna.

“What (Stacy has) been through the past six months to a year is fierce. Incredibly loving, devoted to her family,” Scherber said. “I think she saw herself with one main goal through all of this. To sort of make sure her kids understood what their whole life was about.”

Service to others, Scherber said, is Stacy’s legacy.

“She put herself last,” Scherber said. “She put herself in a position where everyone else’s happiness came first. ... When (Stacy and Tim) did things with us, they were the passionate, power couple. You could tell their hearts were filling. ... You couldn’t imagine them doing more.”

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Freelancer Chris Nelsen in Fort Myers, Florida, contributed to this story.

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AP sports: https://apnews.com/sports

Kyle Hightower, The Associated Press