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  • "Our sincere condolences to Dr. Bill's family. It hurts..."
    - Cecilia Baldini-Chavez
  • "I have so many fond memories of working and traveling with..."
    - Steven Jones
  • "I wish to extend to you and to members of your family my..."
    - Chaplain Richard Reuer
  • "LORRAINE Gaudet"
  • "Heaven is rejoicing at his homecoming. "Dr. Bill," was a..."
    - Gloria Bushong
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AMHERST, MA. - Rev. William H. Baudendistel, D. Min., known fondly as "Dr. Bill," died peacefully of complications due to cancer at the age of 83 on March 31, 2012 at Mary's Meadow at Providence Place in Holyoke, Massachusetts. His son and daughter were with him as he crossed the threshold to the spiritual world.
Dr. Bill moved to Massachusetts in May of 2011 after he lost the use of his legs. Before that he had lived in Mulberry, Florida, for twenty-five years.
His beloved wife, Ruth, passed away in 1997, his cherished son, Bill, in 2002. He is survived by his sister Susan Liedell and her husband James Liedell of Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts; his son Mark Baudendistel and his wife Ann Makley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; his daughter Jan Baudendistel and her husband James Pewtherer of Pelham, Massachusetts; his daughter-in-law Kathy Baudendistel of Lakeland, Florida; his grandchildren Will, Janmarie, Mark, and Jacob Baudendistel of Lakeland, Florida; and his extended family.
Dr. Bill was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 18, 1928. He grew up on Long Island in Rockville Centre. He attended public schools and St. Mark's United Methodist Church. He was very active in the Boy Scouts and earned the rank of Eagle Scout while in high school. Following high school, Dr. Bill enlisted in the U.S. Navy and spent three years on board an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea during the aftermath of WWII. He was yeoman to the chaplain on board ship. This experience sparked a passion for travel and meeting people of other cultures that lasted throughout his life.
Dr. Bill entered college following his honorable discharge from the Navy. He met his future wife Ruth while doing undergraduate work at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. They were married in June of 1952. Dr. Bill entered the seminary at Drew University in New Jersey and was ordained as a Methodist minister upon completion of his studies. He and Ruth then began thirty years of parish ministry in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. Dr. Bill had a special love of working with young people in the church, and of working ecumenically. A wedding photo on the wall in his office included him along with a Catholic priest and Jewish rabbi - it had taken the combined efforts all three clergy people to bring the two families together. He also led several church construction projects. Dr. Bill earned his Doctorate of Ministry in 1977.
Family summers were spent at camp. Dr. Bill was a chaplain and rifle master at Camp Pinnacle in Lyme, New Hampshire for almost twenty years. Generations of Pinnacle campers remember the stories that Dr. Bill would tell in full Native American dress around the campfires at night. His Native American name was Sageto, storyteller.
In their late 50's, Bill and Ruth began a new phase in their ministry: leading groups to the Holy Land, greater Middle East, and Europe for study and travel based on biblical teaching. They worked with Educational Opportunities (EO) and Noseworthy Travel, a division of EO, in Mulberry, Florida. They came to know the lands of the Bible just as well as their own backyard. They made lasting friends wherever they went. When the family journeyed to the Holy Land to scatter Ruth's ashes on the Sea of Galilee in 1998, there was nowhere that people did not approach the group to say Hello and fondly recall their time with Ruth and Bill. It was Dr. Bill's goal to help Americans develop a stronger relationship to the teachings of Christ through walking in His footsteps and coming to know the people and cultures of this part of the world. He and Ruth made dozens of trips to the Middle East and Mediterranean. After Ruth died, Bill continued hosting trips up until February of 2011. During his last months of life, he helped to organize trips from his Hospice bed and began work on a book of meditations and photos that he called, "One World, One People, Many Cultures."
Any visitor to Dr. Bill's home could see the words of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, in a frame on the wall. In part, it read: "Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, for as long as ever you can." Dr. Bill truly lived by these words. He will be dearly remembered and deeply missed by his family and tremendous circle of colleagues and friends. His enthusiasm for life, his joy in meeting others, and his devotion to living the ideals of Christ will always be alive for those blessed to have known him.
There will be a memorial service for Dr. Baudendistel on July 7, 2012, at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon at First Presbyterian Church, Lake Hollingsworth Drive, Lakeland, Florida. All are welcome. Memorial gifts may be given to the Hartsbrook School, c/o Karen Bates, Development Director, 193 Bay Road, Hadley, Massachusetts 01035, or at


Published in Ledger on Apr. 22, 2012
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