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Jun
20
2024
Obituaries

In Memoriam | Robert F. Baldwin Jr.

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June 18, 1933–April 2, 2024

The dawn and dusk of life is always present in our lives and those around us. We experience this arc at all times. Sometimes, it is wise if we allow the experience to truly be felt rather than just wandering with no goal or realization of the moment. The slices and shafts of light can be a guiding path to understanding and peace. Gathering the pieces of the puzzle together brings into focus the essence of the life lived. No life is lived perfectly. Missteps, misfortune, missed opportunities add to the complex mosaic. The moments of compassion, love and laughter provide the framework that life is built upon.

Bob lived a life as complex as the playing of shadows and light upon waters both still and turbulent. Stories of hard luck were a constant stream flowing toward him. More often than not, he responded with a helping hand. Sometimes the tales were a ploy, and he got left holding the bag. But he kept on going, as often the tales held a grain of truth that flowered if given the chance. He, by his own description, was a “cock-eyed optimist.” He helped people with tax liens who were going to lose their home, with rent that was in arrears, with business loans and grants, with guaranteeing loans through banks or credit unions to help in turning around their credit, and standing with people when others wouldn’t. To be sure, he was hardest on those who had his best interests at heart. I guess he thought they would be fine without his help. If at times it seemed unfair, Bob was just trying to be as fair as he could.

Bob did have his challenges. Generally, they involved anything to do with tech. From remotes to cell phones, from thermostats to wireless phones, they were all a pox on his life. Many a time the “TV isn’t working, how do you use this cell phone, the heat or AC won’t come on, where is the phone?” alert would go out to all points near and far. Computers were that thing others used. Another crime against humanity in Bob’s eyes were lights left on and temperatures too hot or cold, comfort be damned! Bob could be kept track of, however, by the trail of pulled weeds that always seemed to be where he had been.

Bob was a man of his word. A greater friend or a worst enemy you could never have. Such is the case with me, Les. When I came to Antioch, I was like many students, broke and hunting for a party. The Gulch was perfect. They took checks! Well, I bounced a check, and Bob tracked me down to collect. I didn’t have the money, so he gave me a choice: Work off the debt, including fees of course, or he would pass the check on to the police. Indentured servitude seemed to me the better choice. That was the beginning of close to 50 years of friendship and a mutually beneficial working relationship. My story is but one of many.

Bob didn’t help others for their praise, but rather for his sense of what is right. Case in point, he tracked down the director of a local museum. He gave him a check for $20,000. He sternly told the director that if he hears a word about where the money came from, it would be the last time he would see any money from him. The director kept the secret until a few weeks after Bob’s passing.

I guess it boils down to that Bob didn’t want to hurt anybody, he wanted to help others. He wanted to be fair and just. He wanted to help people make their own way. These things he did not for praise; he did these acts to follow his truth, what he felt was the right thing to do.

We can learn from Bob’s life. He wasn’t perfect, he’d be the first to say that, but he was a good man, trying to do what is right. We will miss him.

—Les Gilford

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