Mary Baer is proud to say she was a Girl Scout, early in life, as a Brownie in San Rafael, Calif. "I remember admiring the older girls I knew, who seemed so poised and confident, wearing their uniforms and being so involved. I remember thinking how I longed to be a leader like them!"
Mary's parents moved their six kids to southern Oregon when she was in third grade. It was in that rural area that Mary found herself involved in 4-H, working with animals and learning the responsibility involved with raising and training dogs, rabbits and horses. Like Brownies, it gave her a good sense of self and determination.
While in school, she began playing the flute, which also taught her how diligence pays off, and the importance of consistent work to achieve success. She played in the elementary, junior high and high school concert and marching bands, and later joined the high school jazz band, where she also learned to play the alto saxophone. Her band leader gave her the title of Outstanding Jazz Instrumentalist. Mary excelled in writing, enjoying AP classes and earned the title of editor and associate editor of both the campus newspaper and yearbook.
Her mother encouraged her to begin competing in Forensics, where she won a number of awards and trophies at local and regional speech tournaments. She graduated from Phoenix High School, class of 1981.
Through her high school and college years, Mary followed in her big sisters' footsteps, getting her hands dirty, and stepping into a men's uniform to become one of the rare women pumping gas, checking oil and selling tires, at two Chevron USA O&O service stations in Medford, Ore. There, she was able to help pay her way through college.
She took her interest in music to Southern Oregon State College, playing in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble for two years. Mary then found herself immersed in the Communications Department and soon became assistant editor of the student-run newspaper, The Siskiyou.
After three years, she realized she wanted a journalism degree, so she transferred to the University of Oregon, and was thrilled to become a writer for the independent daily on-campus newspaper The Oregon Daily Emerald, where she later was named student government editor.
Two internships followed: one at KVAL-TV in Eugene, Ore., and the other at KTVL in Medford, Ore., where she would land her first TV job. In 1986, she graduated with a Journalism degree from the University of Oregon, with a TV Emphasis. That degree took her across the country first starting her career at KTVL in Medford, Ore., as news anchor/reporter from 1986 to 1988.
Mary then took a job in Columbus, Ohio, at WSYX from 1988 to 1992.
Her next move was to WJXT in Jacksonville, where she has been a news anchor/reporter since 1992.
A number of awards followed through the years, including:
- Recognition from the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry, for her series of reports on a colleague who battled leukemia and finally lost the fight
- 2012 Suncoast Emmy Nominee — Human Interest News, Organ donation report "Story of Andrew and Savannah"
- 2000 honoree — Celebration of Leadership, Community Connections
- 2001 MS Society North Florida Chapter Media Professional of the Year
- 2001-2002 Transplant Recipients International Outstanding Transplant Media Support
- 2001 Brooks Health System Celebrate Independence, Chairman's Award-Media Division
Mary is currently active in news gathering, handling interviews, representing WJXT News4Jax in the community and emceeing a number of charitable events in the Jacksonville area. Among them:
- The National MS Society
- The March of Dimes
- L'Arche Harbor House board member
- Past Board of Directors for Hearts Hands & Hooves
- Current member of the Board of Directors of Hope Therapy, a therapeutic horseback riding program for individuals with disabilities
- The Mary Awards
- Past Heart Ball co-chair with husband Marty Fiorentino
Mary enjoys traveling with her husband, spending time with their four grown children, playing with their grandson, riding horses and spending time outdoors.
She and Marty live in St. Johns County, with a menagerie that includes four cats, a rabbit, a goose, a hen, four horses, a miniature horse and a donkey.