|Birth: ||May 14, 1919|
|Death: ||Aug. 12, 1996|
Jack O. Baldwin was born in Wisconsin. He served as a pilot in USMC Squadron VMD-154 during WWII. This aerial reconnaissance squadron was stationed at Camp Elrod on Espiritu Santo Island, New Hebrides in the South Pacific. Jack's last known residence was Bakersfield, CA. His place of death was listed as Kern Co., CA.
Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA) - August 30, 1996 Deceased Name: JACK O. BALDWIN LOVED NEWSPAPER BUSINESS Nothing would delight Jack O. Baldwin more than to have this story written about him.
He was neither shy nor modest. Hardly self-effacing.
He wrote hundreds of stories during his long career as the Press-Telegram's maritime reporter, but not that many were written about him. And he did love being the focus of attention.
Jack went to great lengths, in fact, to draw attention to himself, to the point of being, well, downright irritating at times. Even his son Tim said, ''You have to admit that dad was a pest.''
There aren't many of us left in the newsroom who worked with Jack, who retired in 1985, and died on Aug. 12. But those of us who did all seem to recall the same antics. ''Good morning, troops and troopesses,'' he would hail in his raspy voice as he strode in each morning. He was fond of verbally butchering the language, although he tamed that urge when he wrote.
He rarely said ''yes'' or ''no,'' preferring, instead, ''affirmative'' or ''negative.'' Where we would say, ''OK,'' Jack would say, ''roger.'' He'd end phone conversations with ''over and out.''
He was especially fond of St. Patrick's Day pranks, one of which is easy to recount, the other a little less, um, delicate.
All of us could see his green bow tie -- neatly knotted from a $100 dollar bill.
But only his male colleagues -- those lined up with Jack in the men's room -- were treated, if such be the term, to the private portion of his anatomy painted green in honor of the day.
That was the other thing about Jack: he loved to shock people. And if you didn't act shocked, he was deeply hurt and disappointed.
Jack was born in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1919, but grew up in Los Angeles. He graduated from Manual Arts High School, where, prophetically, he was managing editor of the school newspaper. He spent two years at San Jose State, then joined the Marines, where he spent four years as a pilot.
Before joining the Press-Telegram in 1962, he worked for the Fairchild Graphic Equipment Co. both in California and New York, and for the San Diego Journal, El Cajon Valley News, California Publisher, Torrance Herald, and the Santa Clara Journal.
He loved the newspaper business. Brash, cocky and utterly fearless, no story or source could buffalo Jack. He wore a pencil over his ear, walked with a swagger, and kept a cigarette dangling from his lips. He pointed out that he did not, however, own a trench coat or a felt hat with a hat band. And he typed with all five fingers. (Reporters were notorious for eschewing touch typing.) And even long after the switch from typewriters to computers had been made, he typed ''30'' at the end of each story to signify its completion.
He had his old black and yellow press license plates (they had two P's, each in intertwined triangles) on his car, and his 1985 press pass in his pocket until the day he died. And he always had the old Speed Graphic camera nearby.
As the reporter covering maritime issues, he fought against formerly sanctioned ocean dumping grounds that were creating waters so foul they were killing marine life. He spent a month investigating the dumping grounds, then wrote a hard-hitting series of articles in 1971. As a result, the problem was investigated by both the Navy and the state Water Resources Control Board, and the dumping grounds were declared off-limits.
Growing up with Jack was a challenge. He loved his kids, but his colorful stunts didn't always amuse them.
Once, to the horror of his son Tim, Jack showed up at Tim's high school pep rally hollering and hopping around in his old Manual Arts High School pep squad uniform. And to make matters even more mortifying, Jack had arranged for an ambulance to come carry him away on a gurney. But for all of his antics and often abrasive ways, Jack had a good heart. He was kind and believed in fairness and equal opportunities for everyone. When he learned one of his children was gay, he became an active and supportive member of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). When the wife of one of his sons died, Jack and his wife, Gloria, gladly took the grandchildren for a year.
One of Jack's greatest days came at age 64, when he, his sons, a grandson and several cousins went sky diving together in Perris Valley. He wrote a first-person story about it, and, typical of Jack, speculated at the end that perhaps the age span of 48 years between himself and his grandson might be some sort of a record. He was going to check it out with the Guinness Book of World Records. Anything to stay in the limelight.
He is survived by his sons, Timothy, Donald and Daniel; daughter, Shelley Uitzetter; and close friend, Elizabeth Storm. His wife, Gloria, died in 1988.
Services are being held today in Bakersfield, where Jack moved when he retired.
The family requests donations to the American Cancer Society, 936 Pine Ave., Long Beach CA 90813.
Body buried at sea
Specifically: Jack Owen Baldwin was buried at sea in the Pacific Ocean exactly 3 miles south (180) from the entrance to Newport Beach CA.
Created by: VMD-154 Association
Record added: Sep 24, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial# 9511829