Norma "Jean" Baldwin was an art teacher, community volunteer

Saturday, August 9, 2014 | 6:07 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – As an elementary art teacher in Brentwood, Norma "Jean" Baldwin did not like the then-new box of 64 Crayola crayons with a built-in sharpener because she believed crayons did not always have to be pointed like a pencil.

"When kids were working on something, she would rip the paper around the crayon and break it in half and taught them how to use the side or the end for texture and shadowing," her daughter Ronda "Rhoda" Baldwin said.

Norma "Jean" Baldwin of Columbia died Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. She was 88.

She was born June 29, 1926, in Creighton to Guy G. and Ruth (Jones) Randol. She married Laban "Huck" Baldwin in May 1952.

Mrs. Baldwin was the second oldest of nine children, and her family operated a farm during the Great Depression. She started teaching in a one room schoolhouse when she was 18 and later earned her master's degree in art education at MU. She was an art teacher in Brentwood for 33 years.

"She loved kids, and kids always loved her," Rhoda Baldwin said. "Even when she had Alzheimer's disease, she would still interact with babies and all children."

Rhoda Baldwin said one summer, her mom drew out a nature scene mural on a long white wall in the basement of the family's home in Brentwood. She outlined the mural's basic structure, such as where the streams and trees were, and then she and all the neighborhood kids painted the mural.

Norma Jean Baldwin drew the outlines of a woodland scene on a basement wall and invited neighborhood children to help her paint it, her daughter recalled.

One piece of artwork Mrs. Baldwin made is a clay sculpture of a mother holding a baby, something her daughter treasures and keeps for decoration. Rhoda Baldwin said her mom probably made it around the time she was taking care of her own mother while working on her master's degree at MU.

"I like to feel it is of me and her," Baldwin said.

Mrs. Baldwin and her husband moved to Columbia when they retired in 1986 to be close to their daughter. She became an active member of Broadway Christian Church.

Her daughter said one time the church was having students draw pictures to put on its service program. Sometimes the lines on the pictures were not dark enough to appear on paper copies of the designs. Mrs. Baldwin would sit in the church's office and carefully darken the lines on the pictures, trying not to take away the creativity of the piece.

In addition to being involved with Broadway Christian Church, Mrs. Baldwin also helped get the Columbia Senior Center started. At that time, just a small group of people ran the center, which was located in a tiny hallway in an old hotel on Business Loop 70.

"She would donate crafts to earn money for the new senior center," Baldwin said.

Mrs. Baldwin was always a positive person. Whenever someone asked her how she was, she would reply, "I'm just marvelous," no matter how she might have actually felt, her daughter said.

Mrs. Baldwin is survived by a daughter, Ronda "Rhoda" LaJean Baldwin, of Columbia; two sisters, Jewel Dean Reynoldsof Smithville, and Wanda Ruth Mann, and her husband, Bill, of Gower; two brothers, Harold "Doc" Randol of Arkansas, and Tom Randol, and his wife, Carolyn, of Harrisonville; a grandson, Dinesh Baldwin, of Columbia; and many nieces and nephews.

Her husband, Laban Baldwin; son, Brad Alan Baldwin; and two brothers and two sisters, died earlier.

Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Service will be at 1 p.m. Monday at Broadway Christian Church, 2601 W. Broadway. A second visitation will be from 11 a.m. until the time of the service at the church. Burial will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery, 1217 Business Loop 70 W.

Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 2400 Bluff Creek Drive, Columbia, MO 65201.

Supervising editor is Samuel Hardiman.

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