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Arthur Cordell Baum, Sr
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Birth: Mar. 25, 1938
Elizabeth City
Pasquotank County
North Carolina, USA
Death: Jul. 24, 1994
Norfolk City
Virginia, USA

age: 56 yrs 3 mos 28 days

State of Issue: Virginia
Last known residence:
City: Rodanthe
County: Dare
State: North Carolina


RODANTHE - Age 56, died Sunday, July 24, 1994, in a Norfolk hospital.

He was a native of Elizabeth City, was a former resident of Chesapeake and was a retired maintenance man for Camp Hatteras Campground. He served in the U.S. Army Reserve.

He was the son of the late Thomas Baum and Carrie Louise Gard Baum and the husband of Diane Hudgins Baum of the home.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, Arthur Cordell Baum, Jr. of Alaska and Robert Baum of Kill Devil Hills; two daughters, Sherry Baum Silva of Salvo, N.C.; step-daughter, Denise Weaver of Frisco, NC; and one brother, Thomas Baum of Gaithersburg, Md.

A memorial service will be held at Camp Hatteras Soundside on Wednesday, July 27, 1994 at 3 p.m. by the Rev. Ronnie Midgett and the Rev. Roger Barnett. Twiford's Colony Chapel, Manteo, is in charge of arrangements.

The Virginian-Pilot
Norfolk, VA
Tuesday, July 26, 1994


Friends always kidded handyman Cordell Baum that he would be late for his own funeral.

A boisterous jokester who became a local legend for his untiring efforts to help others last year during a flood and a hurricane, Baum proved them all right - and got the last laugh. "We knew he was up there just chuckling down at us," Baum's widow, Diane, said from her Outer Banks mobile home Friday afternoon. "He always wanted to make people laugh.''

Baum, 56, died a week ago in a Norfolk hospital. His family planned a memorial gathering for 3 p.m. last Wednesday. The funeral worker carrying Baum's ashes didn't arrive until 4:15. One of two ministers scheduled to conduct the service never did show up.

A 16-year-old driver plowed head-on into Rev. Ronnie Midgett's car atop the Oregon Inlet bridge. The minister was not hurt, but he and the funeral worker with the urn had to wait for a wrecker to clear the span. "We were going to have this nice little memorial, then sit around drinking coffee and telling Cordell stories," said Debbie Lilly of Moyock, Baum's sister-in-law. "Instead, 50 people all were waiting for Cordell. So we started talking about how typical that was and began to laugh."

A gruff, often scruffy man who drank and brawled in his younger days, Baum favored tattered sweat shirts and wore work boots when he wasn't barefoot. He dropped out of school in the fifth grade and spent his childhood in Elizabeth City as a laborer - and getting into countless scrapes.

In the late 1950s, Baum moved to Chesapeake and started Tidewater Termite Exterminators. Diane worked for the company, too - and married her boss in 1973.

The Baums and their two daughters moved to Hatteras Island 16 years ago. Cordell Baum became an established character in the small seaside community. "He was wild and crazy. He got drunk and fought a lot. He had a hard life," said Baum's step-daughter, Denise Weaver. "Almost everyone around here liked him, though, because he'd talk to anyone. People were drawn to him because he made them feel good." "He lived in hell there towards the end," said Weaver's boyfriend, Kyle O'Neal. "Even from there, Cordell could make you laugh.''

The last three years of Baum's life were especially difficult: Besides undergoing quadruple-bypass heart surgery, he had to cope with diabetes, blood clots, kidney problems and other ailments.

In 1991, the campground he tended was smashed by a tornado. And his home was mangled by two hurricanes and the March 1993 "Storm of the Century." "During Hurricane Bob, a tornado picked the entire trailer up and set it over on its side," Diane Baum said. "During that March storm, a shed crushed our roof and six feet of water buried our cars."

Then Emily hit six months later. . . . "It was a tough year,'' she said. "But work after those storms occupied him - and that made him feel good." Baum went around the island village talking to people and offering a helping hand. He filled the campground's reserve tank with potable water and delivered it to neighbors' homes. He opened the campground's clubhouse for folks seeking refuge. And he found tools, car parts and RV equipment for anyone who asked. "It didn't even matter if he didn't like them,'' Diane Baum said. "He just wanted to help. That's where he found his reward."

Even after ailments forced him to quit his full-time maintenance job, Baum took shifts in the campground's guard gate. He did odd jobs for friends and family. And he teased his former employees into being more productive. "He'd sit in his chair with the dog, mostly, the last year, looking out the window," Diane Baum said, smiling slightly from the same plaid-covered perch. "When he had the strength, he'd yell at the guys through the window: 'What the hell are you doing? Why don't you do that job the way you're s'posed to? Can't get along without me, huh?'. "He was a tough old buzzard. But he made us all stronger."

Every morning when he was able, Baum walked to the community store, sat at a picnic table on the porch and tried to "solve the world's problems". He and other old-timers talked of fishing and politics. And, of course, played jokes on each other. "He was a real good old fellow, and he used to buy a lot of fried chicken," said Dare County Commissioner Joseph "Mac" Midgett, who runs the store and chatted with Baum most mornings. "I think everybody will miss him. He had a big mouth and a heart of gold."

Baum's 19-year-old daughter, Sherry, agreed. "He had so many stories. He could make anything seem funny. And he was telling jokes all the time - but I never heard the same one twice. You couldn't print most of them, though". Baum also liked Statler Brothers hymns and Little Richard's rock. He enjoyed "Sanford and Son" reruns and thought Archie Bunker was hilarious. Baum spent many long afternoons on the Frisco and Rodanthe piers - and weekends fishing for flounder from the beach or boats.

In the end, his resting place was inspired by his passion for fishing. "We couldn't afford a burial, so we had him cremated," Weaver explained. "Some friends took us about three miles offshore in their fishing boat and we scattered Cordell out in the waves." "He always dreamed of finding that perfect flounder hole," Diane Baum said. "I hope that's just what he did."

The Virginian-Pilot
Norfolk, VA
Monday, August 4, 1994
Family links: 
  Carrie Louise Gard Baum (1910 - 1977)
  Sherry Anne Baum (1974 - 2002)*
*Calculated relationship
Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea.
Created by: Marilyn
Record added: Jun 11, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 71168224

- Marilyn
 Added: Sep. 10, 2012

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