Owen came into the world in Hilo, Hawaii, born to Park Ranger Paul H. Baldwin, and Sarah C. Baldwin, to join an older brother, P. Thomas Baldwin. A sister, Carole Louise, joined the family in 1948 before they settled in Fort Collins, Colo., in 1950.
The highlight of Owen’s childhood was summers spent at the University of Montana Biological Station on Flat Head Lake, where his family lived in a cabin and enjoyed meals and summer activities with other staff families. Owen graduated in 1963 from Fort Collins High School and went to Whitman College, where he met Charlene (Chambers) Baldwin. They married on Feb. 1, 1967 and graduated that same year.
Accepted into the Peace Corps, the couple were assigned to San Roque village on the northern end of the island of Saipan, which was then a United Nations’ Trust Territory. Together they were the Speaking and Reading English Program for grades 1-6. When Typhoon Jean hit Saipan, Owen recovered boards, straightened nails and rebuilt a small structure to which his firstborn son, Ted, came home from a typhoon-damaged hospital in 1969.
Owen graduated from UCLA Law School in 1971 and interned with California Indian Legal Services. While awaiting results of the California Bar Exam at his parents’ home in Colorado, a second son, Toby, was born in Denver in 1972.
Owen practiced law as a public defender in Mendocino County, Calif., before moving to Whidbey Island, Wash., and buying 20 acres where he logged and prepared lumber to build an “owner/builder” home for his family. After a close call with his toddler while yarding logs, Owen suddenly saw his life in a different Light which led to an encounter with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Baptized in 1975 at age 30, he began in-service training at House of Prayer and became Principal at Lighthouse Christian School.
A daughter, Hope, was born in 1977 in the house her father built. Owen became pastor at House of Prayer in 1986. He was chairman of the board, pioneering a Crisis Pregnancy Center (now Pregnancy Care Center) in Oak Harbor, Wash., and served with an Island County team working with juvenile drug issues. He facilitated a South Whidbey monthly pastoral prayer gathering and took part in a liturgical study.
In 1991, a third son, Serawit, became a member of the Baldwin family. For over a decade, both family and church helped with camps on Copper Island Camp in Barclay Sound, British Columbia, where Owen worked with directors Dave and Inger Logelin to serve First Nation youth.
Owen enjoyed volunteering as a timer at South Whidbey High School track meets, on football “chain gang” and being an avid fan of volleyball and soccer. He was pleased to explore his kids’ expanding worlds: Ted in graduate school at the University of Arizona and teaching in Uganda, Toby on Air Force assignments in Germany and Korea, Hope in Chicago, and Serawit in Ethiopia building a dairy farm. He delighted in their growing families, presiding at two of the four weddings and welcoming grandchildren.
In 2006, at the age of 60, Owen and Charlene moved to Addis Ababa, to live with Serawit’s family and work with an Ethiopian church in connection with New Frontiers International. Owen attended language school, reading and writing Amharic. A group of young pastors began meeting with him weekly, forming the foundation for Eden Genet Leadership Training.
After eight years, Owen and Charlene moved home to Langley, Wash., and he started work at Hanson’s Building Supply, making yearly trips to Ethiopia and including teams from New Community Church in Tacoma. Owen served as an elder at South Whidbey Assembly of God, led by his friend, Matt Chambers.
Owen died suddenly, painlessly and unexpectedly of cardiac arrest on July 4. He is survived by Charlene, his wife of 53 years; brother, Tom Baldwin, of Ashland, Ore.; niece, Marina (Lucas) Pettinati and their three daughters; and his sister, Carol Baldwin, of Missoula, Mont.
He is greatly missed by the four couples who call him Dad: Ted (Katy) Baldwin; Toby (Laura) Baldwin; Serawit (Azeb Ayela) Hailu and Hope (Chad) Brian; and his seven precious grandchildren, Dodi, Emily, Milo, Mercy, Connal, Ellery and August.
A memorial gathering will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8 at South Whidbey Assembly of God. Due to COVID-19 limits, seating will be socially-distanced with masks required. The service will also be both streamed live via the SW Assembly of God Facebook page and recorded for later viewing.
Our family welcomes you to send a message or memory, whether you are able to attend the memorial service or not, to the following link: www.tribute.co/owenbaldwin/