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Obituary Condolences

MARIE H. BALDWIN - LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Marie H. Baldwin, beloved wife and loving mother, whose life was largely spent in promoting social justice, racial equality and women's rights, passed away on Feb . 28, 2012, at the age of 88. Grace Marie Hunsucker was born in Dallas, Texas on Dec. 22, 1923, to Charlotte Moore and attorney Clyde Hunsucker. Her feisty nature manifested itself early on. On Sept. 27, 1927, Charles Lindbergh visited Dallas during a national tour sponsored by Harry Guggenheim. After her mother took her sister, Kara, to the parade, Marie persuaded her sitter to take her as well. At 12 she was driving her grandfather, J. R. Moore, around his ranchland in Matador. Her uncle, Charles Guy, the colorful editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, was among her favorite relatives and she soon developed a long-lasting love of journalism. Marie and her sister worked for the Corpus Christi CallerTimes, and the family was close friends of Douglas Meador, editor of the Matador Tribune. In 1944, she graduated from Texas Technological College with a B.A. in music. She played piano by ear, sang beautifully and spoke fluent Spanish. After a year at the University of Mexico, she joined the elementary school faculty at the Presbyterian Day School in Corpus Christi. Assisting with her mother at a 1945 holiday reception at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, she met Walter Brewster Baldwin of New Canaan, Conn. The New York Times item was headlined, "Texas Girl Will Be the Bride of Walter Brewster Baldwin." Their Corpus Christi wedding was likewise published: "Marie Hunsucker is Cathedral Bride." They moved to the annex of his parents' home in New Canaan while he finished his doctorate at Columbia University. She shared her husband's love of bridge, and later said that, "in New Canaan they play cutthroat bridge." She converted to Catholicism, and was baptized at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. In June of 1947, she and her husband moved to Vermilion, S.D., where her daughter and eldest son were born and where Brewster taught at the University of South Dakota. In 1951, Brew resumed his work for the U.S. Geological Service, taking a position at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. Marie's circle of friends included the editor of the El Defensor newspaper. In November 1952, she covered the presidential election for the Associated Press, and later described her evening in the small town of Magdalena, N.M., searching for a telephone to call in the results. Her two youngest sons were born in Albuquerque, N.M. Marie was energetic and engaging. She followed local and national politics closely, subscribing to many periodicals. She and her colleagues organized voter support for a bond issue to finance Socorro's new general hospital. She and Brew discussed politics at the dinner table, where a radio was tuned to the evening news with Edward R. Murrow. They played bridge with their children and with friends. In 1958, the family moved to Middlebury where Brew took a job teaching geology at Middlebury College. Marie studied Russian at the college and literature at UVM. A few years later, they moved to Cornwall and Marie taught in the Moriah, N.Y. public schools. At home she spoke of the poverty in which her students lived. Her children were constantly reminded that prejudice and bigotry were not to be tolerated, and there were many instances of incorporating people of other nationalities, races and ethnic backgrounds in her children's lives. She worked as a Girl Scout troop leader for her daughter and her high school friends, who presented her with a plaque reading, "Mrs B, Most Wonderful Leader." The Vermont Girl Scout Council hired her as a field director, where she eventually sought to start a labor union. In the 1970s, she served as ViceChair of the Vermont Democratic Party and had her picture taken with Jimmy Carter in the summer of his presidential campaign. She and Brew traveled to Belize, Abaco, the Yucatan, and Scotland. In 1988, she received an M.F.A. in writing from Vermont College. A tireless crusader for women's rights, she spoke and wrote about her views regularly both in Vermont and national publications, as well as an occasional radio show. She was co-founder of Vermont Catholics for Choice, and worked tirelessly to support and promote the organization. Her detailed description of the evolution in her thinking, and her willingness to discuss her views, drew a following, and many of these people became her friends. Accompanying controversies left her undaunted. In 2004, she moved to Venice, Calif. to reside with her son David and his family, eventually moving to a nursing home in Santa Monica, surrounded by attentive caregivers. She was predeceased by her sister, Kara Burney of Corpus Christi, Texas; her husband, Brewster Baldwin of Middlebury; and her youngest child, Christopher Baldwin (Darrell Revok) of New Orleans. She is survived by her daughter, Jean Baldwin McLevedge and husband, Brian McLevedge, and son, Myles, of East Greenwich, R.I.; son, David Baldwin and wife, Patricia O'Brien, and daughters, Sarah and Samantha Baldwin, of Venice, Calif.; and son, Stephen Baldwin of Rutland. Also surviving are her sister's children, Kara Burney Young of Brattleboro and Cary, N.C., and Frank Burney of San Antonio, Texas. Services will be private. A memorial event will be held this summer in Middlebury, if interested in attending please contact David Baldwin at: davidbaldwin@ca.rr.com. Her family extends its gratitude to all the people who appreciated her originality and supported her enthusiastic pursuit of political and social causes, and who gave so much meaning to her public life. Donations in her memory may be made to any of the following organizations: Catholics for Choice (www.catholicsforchoice.org), American Civil Liberties Union (www.aclu.org), CARE (www.care.org), National Organization for Women (www.now.org), or the Democratic National Committee (www.democrats.org), or to the social reform .

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Apr. 22, 2012
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