COLUMBIA — Donald E. Baldridge was an avid outdoorsman, devoted family man and talented craftsman.
"There's nothing my husband couldn't do," his wife Emma Baldridge said.
Mr. Baldridge died at his New Franklin home Monday, June 10, 2013 surrounded by the family he loved.
Mr. Baldridge was born in Kirksville on Dec. 3, 1943, to John E. and Ruby Cole Baldridge.
He graduated from Hickman High School and lived in Columbia until his marriage to Emma Lee Twitchell on Jan. 19, 1963, when they moved to New Franklin.
After working as a mason at MU for 18 years, Mr. Baldridge started his own air conditioning and sheet metal business with the tools he had in his basement. He did a lot of custom work because he was one of the few people who could build ducts on a radius instead of a T or L shape, Emma Baldridge said.
His wife said he could seemingly do anything he set his mind to. He could lay brick and work on a car, and he even built his wife an entire kitchen.
Mr. Baldridge was a devoted family man and deeply loved his two children and grandchildren. Emma Baldridge said nothing made him happier than chasing his grandchildren with water guns. Once he spent an hour filling water balloons for a water fight.
"When it came to his grandkids, he was a big kid," Emma Baldridge said.
Mr. Baldridge was also a determined man. In order to be certified to install furnaces and air conditioning units, he was required to take a challenging test, which, his wife said, no one passes on the first try. People told him not to be surprised if he didn't pass on the first try. Mr. Baldridge studied for an entire year, and at the age of 50, he passed on the first try.
Mr. Baldridge's determination served him well when a stroke rendered him paralyzed on the right side of his body. Not only did he regain his speech, he also was able to walk again, and though he lost the use of his right arm, he was able to cut metal and even cut a path in the woods using a battery-powered chain saw.
The outdoors were a second home to Mr. Baldridge, and he loved to hunt, fish and scour for mushrooms. He would take his son, Donald Scott Baldridge, on hunting trips in Idaho and Wyoming.
"Ever since I was in diapers, we hunted and fished almost every weekend. We did everything out there," his son said. "He had 50 or 60 years of river experience; he knew when to get on and when to stay off of it. He respected it."
The two of them spent time on the Missouri River; father teaching son all he knew.
"And I'm thankful for that," his son said. "From the time I was big enough to tag along and keep up, he always let me come."
Mr. Baldridge is survived by his wife, Emma Lee (Twitchell) Baldridge of New Franklin; daughter, Tammy Lynn Cook and her husband, Kenny, of Abilene, Kan.; a son, Donald Scott Baldridge and his wife, Shanna, and their three children, Marlee, Lydia, and Adrian, of Harrisburg; and three brothers, John Baldridge and his wife, Anna Mae, of Marshall, Jerry Baldridge of New Franklin, and James Baldridge and his wife, Gloria, of San Antonio, Texas.
Visitation will be from 2 to 3 p.m. Fridayat Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Services will immediately follow. Interment will be at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to the organization of the donor's choice.
Tributes can be posted at memorialfuneralhomeandcemetary.com.