Remembering longtime West Seattle resident Lois Baldwin

Lois Baldwin lived a life of education – given and received – as well as creativity and adventure, as detailed in this remembrance shared by her niece, Vicki Burr-Chellin:

Lois Elaine Baldwin, former English teacher and guidance counselor at Evergreen High School from 1955-1976, died peacefully on December 11, 2011 in West Seattle.

Miss Baldwin was born on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 1920 in Winlock, WA to Lee Ernest Baldwin and Yola Barrett Baldwin, both from pioneer families. (She claimed to love pumpkin pie because her mother had been eating pie on the day she was born.) The Baldwins moved to Oregon. where their father owned timber and operated a sawmill and their mother was a career public-school teacher, and they raised 4 children.

Miss Baldwin graduated high school in Cottage Grove, OR; she received her BA in Education from the University of Oregon, Eugene, OR (1944); and her MA in Education (English Literature) from the Colorado State College of Education at Greeley, CO (1955). She was a published poet and a student and teacher of Shakespeare. Her published poem in Poems of the Beaver State 1948, A Thanksgiving Prayer follows:

Grant that there be
Within my soul,
I pray –
Calm, cool strength that
Lends a peace
To this – Thanksgiving Day.

And – then – dear Lord,
Let there be
And with it
Faith to know
That by this quality we live
And by this Truth
We grow.

She was invited into the Kappa Chapter of Pi Lambda Theta in 1943, and later served as president of the UW Pi Lambda Theta, Honorary National Association for Women in Education. She wrote this tongue-in-cheek poem for the induction dinner ceremony in 1943:

“I thought that I would never rata
An honor like Pi Lambda Theta.
And when they stuck before my eyes
Reams and reams to memorize
And ask us for a little poem
I turned and blindly rushed for home.
And in I went and down I sata
And gradually removed my hata
I said a little prayer to Ala
That I had been the lucky gala
For never did I dream I’d rata
Chance in our Pi Lambda Theta.
And after this big sumptuous meal
Which certainly was no pointless deal
I thank the stars for all I ata
And make my bid Pi Lambda Theta”.

Her first teaching contract appears to have been in Albany, OR in 1943 and was renewed for 1944 at the pay rate of $147.50 per month for 9 ½ months. In 1952 Ms Baldwin met her life’s companion, Beatrice Barclay, and in 1955 they both accepted teaching positions in the Seattle area.(Miss Barclay – Chief Sealth Math) Miss Baldwin was dedicated to her English composition and literature students at Evergreen, and as a Guidance Counselor, assisted many of them in obtaining scholarships to continue their education at the college level. The following is a note she saved from one of her students written in 1972:

“Miss Baldwin,
Of all the teachers I’ve ever had I think I’ve learned more from you. Your one of my very favorite teachers and I will always remember you as a warm, kind, and thoughtful person as well as the best teacher I ever had. Your really not the easiest teacher but that’s what I like, someone who makes you work for what you get. Love Always, Chrystal xxxx “1974”.”

Miss Baldwin and Miss Barclay made their home in West Seattle and shared life-long adventures, traveling the world several times always with a goal of continuous learning. They were both members of Tibbetts Methodist Church in West Seattle. Miss Baldwin was awarded a fellowship for a 1964 Shakespeare Educational Tour in Europe and travelled by Pan American Clipper (“where they served martinis and a chicken dinner in the middle of the night”) from New York to Europe to study and attend many Shakespeare Plays. She also studied in Oslo, Norway and had two 13- week study trips as a non-matriculated student aboard the USS Universe from Univ. of Pittsburgh.

In 1976, they bought an Airstream and retired to Eugene, OR and Florence, AZ. Many trips ensued and they made many friends from all over the US. They explored the Southwest, swam in the warm pools, played golf, walked miles, planted flowers and provided security for their retirement communities. It seemed as though they were just ahead of, or just after, important International events: the death of Anwar al- Sadat in 1981 (while traveling in Egypt and north Africa); the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (while traveling in West Germany and Eastern Europe). There are hundreds of slides and written narratives that go with their many trips.

Miss Baldwin was also a student of genealogy and travelled with the purpose of gathering details of the Baldwin and Barrett families’ ancestors and children, too! This included travels to Scotland, England, Whidbey Island, Missouri, Kansas, Pennsylvania, New York, Curtin, OR and Winlock, WA. She used to say she did not contribute more children to the family but rather contributed her research of the family for us to celebrate and have pride. She loved her family.

In 2007 Miss Baldwin returned to West Seattle at the invitation of her niece after the death of Miss Barclay. For the past four years she lived at Merrill Gardens at Admiral Heights where she was lovingly supported by the great staff and had many good friends. While at Merrill Gardens she followed the world news closely, took computer lessons so she could continue her research, went on every “mystery ride” she was allowed to join, recently had a 155 game in Wii Bowling, and took tea on Sundays. Every day, Miss Baldwin either walked to the viewpoint to look at the beautiful city, or, when the weather didn’t allow for this, walked the halls of her home.

Miss Baldwin is survived by her sister, Patricia Chellin of Normandy Park; her sister-in-law, Helen Baldwin of Grants Pass, OR, nieces and nephews: Vicki Burr-Chellin of West Seattle (Judy); Nikki Squire of Bend, OR (Dell); Pamela Jones, Vancouver, WA; Diane Sanders of Scappoose, OR (Mike); Lisa Baldwin of Grants Pass, OR; Rebel Jones of Milwaukie, OR; Marc Baldwin of Corvallis, OR (Susan); Ernie Baldwin of Grants Pass, OR (Susie); Jeff Jones, of Portland, OR; Lane Jones Layton (deceased); Jere Chellin of Tacoma, WA (Cindy); and Greg Chellin of Auburn, WA (Debbie); and several grand-nieces and nephews. She was pre-deceased by her brother, Lee Ernest Baldwin and her sister, Joyce Baldwin Jones.

Miss Baldwin will be inurned in Eugene, OR where family and friends will gather next Spring to celebrate her life. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to University Of Oregon School of Education, Eugene.

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3 Replies to "Remembering longtime West Seattle resident Lois Baldwin"

  • J W December 18, 2011 (6:30 am)

    What a lovely poem. Miss Baldwin will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

  • SHIRLEY CONYNE December 19, 2011 (5:03 pm)

    What a great legacy Lois leaves. She will be missed by her friends at Merrill Gardens. Lois may you rest in peace.

  • Nichole December 20, 2011 (1:59 pm)

    As Lois Baldwins Active Living Director at Merrill Gardens at Admiral Heights I have had the pleasure of getting to know Lois and hearing her many stories of the travels she enjoyed. We continued those travels together with mountain trips, museums, lunch outings and exploring the internet which she found absolutly facinating. I did not have the pleasure of knowing Lois during her teaching years but I can say in my 14 years working with Seniors Lois by far has been my most eager life long learner. She had a wonderful sense of humor. She is greatly missed by her friends here at Admiral Heights.

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