Francis B. Baldwin was born on October 4, 1932, in White Plains, New York to Evelyn Bayles and John Thomas Baldwin. Fran was their second son, predeceased by his brother, John Thomas Baldwin II. Francis and his family moved from White Plains to his paternal
grandmother’s summer farm on Winchell Mountain Road, Millerton during the Great Depression, where his father started a dairy farm. Francis first attended school in a one room schoolhouse on the mountain.
In truth, his father was a reluctant farmer, but Francis took to farming easily and well. He often shared fond memories of life on a dairy farm. As a child, he worked long hours, up in the morning before school to milk the cows and feed the chickens, and went back to work after school to finish chores. For years, the family endured a house without heat or indoor plumbing. He recalled his mom cooking dinner on a coal stove wearing wool gloves and her winter coat. In the 1940s, his parents bought a dairy farm on Mill Hill Road, in Gallatin NY and moved the family there.
Naturally athletic, Fran played both football and basketball at Pine Plains High School. He deeply admired his coach, Les Barton, from whom he learned the value of teamwork and determination. On the basketball court he was known as “Gunner” for his clean shot. Fran was also a star player on the football team and was said to have only dropped one pass in his high school football career. He was thus noticed and recruited by colleges such as Rutgers and Colgate. In the end, he chose farming and stayed on the family farm. He continued to play basketball locally after high school graduation, playing on various men’s teams. His love of the sport continued throughout his life. In later years, he installed a basketball hoop on the side of his garage. Some intensely competitive games were held in the yard, especially with his brother in law, Michael McDermott. When his daughter Susan decided to try out for the basketball team, he spent many hours shooting hoops with her.
He was a great fan of both Notre Dame and the Giants. In general, on any game day, he could be found hooting and hollering in front of the television. When the Giants or Notre Dame won, it was a good day. He also loved fast cars and owned a few, mostly before he was married. Fran admitted to having a heavy foot, and briefly considered becoming a racecar driver. That career path ended abruptly when he met his future wife.
In his early twenties, Francis joined the US Army and was a member of the 82nd Airborne. He became a medic and served stateside during the Korean War. Shortly after returning from the army, he decided to leave the family farm, and became a lineman for Central Hudson. He worked there for 36 years until his retirement.
In 1961, on a blind date, he met the girl of his dreams, Linda McDermott. They were married 6 months later and at the time of his passing they were married for 61 wonderful years. In 1962, just after the birth of their first child, they renovated an old schoolhouse on Mill Hill Road in Gallatin, just up the street from his parents home, where they raised their three daughters, Linda, Susan, and Eilish. He and his wife Linda resided there until his passing. Fran loved his life on the hill and had very little interest in the outside world, apart from his home, his family, and his friends. He was an expert woodworker, and had a love for all things “Early American''. He eventually built a woodshop barn on their property, where he spent countless hours designing and building furniture and various things for those he loved. A friend once referred to their spot on Mill Hill Road as, “a slice of heaven on Earth.” From then on, that is how Fran referred to it.
Fran loved his “three girls”, Linda Baldwin (m. Michael McGhee), Susan Baldwin-Page (m. James Page) and Eilish Baldwin-Cardone (m. Eugene Cardone). When his daughters were in high school, Fran could often be found standing by the fence surrounding the Stissing Mountain High School track supporting them as they competed in a track meet, on the sidelines watching a field hockey game, or in the high school gym cheering on the Pine Plains Girls’ Basketball team. He was extremely proud of the people his daughters have become. He was blessed to have six loving grandchildren; Paige McGhee (m. Steven Winka), Lucia Cardone, Dante Cardone, Sophie McGhee-Ozgun (m. Berkay McGhee-Ozgun), Hannah Page, and Liam McGhee. Fran, also known as Pop, took great pride in all of his grandchildren's
Fran is survived by his wife Linda, his three daughters and their spouses, his brother in law, Michael McDermott (m. Mia McDermott), six grandchildren, and many loving nieces, nephews, and extended family.
A graveside service will be held at 1 pm on Saturday, January 7 at the Gallatin Church Cemetery, 234 County Route 7, Pine Plains, NY. A celebration of life reception will immediately follow. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to Willow Roots. Willow Roots is a non-profit that provides aid to the people in the Pine Plains community, which Francis was a part of for over 80 years. Donations can be mailed to Willow Roots, Pine Plains, New York 12567. https://www.willowroots.org