Thomas Baldwin Jr.
Thomas Broomall Temple Baldwin, Jr., a former war correspondent for The Associated Press, passed away peacefully on April 3, 2018. He was 71.
Tom Baldwin was born March 30, 1947 in Media, Pennsylvania to Thomas Baldwin, Sr., a businessman, and Lucille Hodgen Baldwin, a homemaker.
He attended Haverford School, where his rugged, powerful build and love of sport made him a standout on the athletic fields; he was captain of the varsity football team and all-state in lacrosse. A true Philadelphian, summers were spent on the Jersey Shore, working as a lifeguard for Avalon Beach Patrol.
Tom went on to graduate from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in upstate New York. He briefly enlisted in the U.S. Merchant Marine, ferrying oil from Sunoco's Philadelphia refineries up and down the East Coast.
After college, not knowing what to do for a career, he responded to an ad for a reporter position with The Press of Atlantic City. He got his start as a cub reporter covering cat house raids, political corruption, the Miss America pageant, and the nascent days of Atlantic City's transformation into a gambling destination.
His natural talent for unflinchingly questioning authority made him an ideal journalist.
From Atlantic City, he want to work for The Associated Press in Philadelphia, then the AP in New York and Boston, where he was New England news editor.
It was in New York that Tom met a young female journalist, Toni Donina, who would become his wife. They married in 1976.
In 1980, Baldwin achieved a career goal: He was selected to be a foreign news correspondent for the AP. The couple was transferred overseas. They were based in Beirut, Lebanon and Cairo, Egypt but traveled extensively all over the Middle East and Africa.
It was Baldwin's lifelong dream to cover firsthand some of the most dramatic events of his time, and he did: He reported on the assassination of Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat, the rise of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the 1982 war in Lebanon and the Iran-Iraq wars. In fact, Baldwin was credited by columnist William Safire for first coining the phrase "suicide bomber," for his description of wartime terrorism that he witnessed during the 1982 Lebanese civil war.
By late 1982, war-torn Beirut had become too dangerous, and the AP transferred the couple to Johannesburg, South Africa.
In South Africa, Toni safely delivered their first daughter. A second daughter soon followed.
Baldwin continued working for the AP, covering the height of apartheid-era South Africa. His eyewitness accounts of racial segregation and his interviews with , Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu were published in newspapers all over the world under the AP byline.
In the mid '80s, the family returned to the U.S. from overseas, residing first in Doylestown, PA and then New Hope, where they lived for 27 years and remain to this day.
Tom continued his journalism career, working for The Trentonian newspaper, the Journal of Commerce, a shipping industry newsletter, Gannett as a New Jersey Statehouse reporter and finally, the Home News-Tribune. He is the author of one book, "Big Storm, Small Ship," about riding out a hurricane on a container ship in the Atlantic.
He retired from the news business at the age of 67.
But the pinnacle of Baldwin's career was no doubt working for the AP. After his death, his eldest daughter was flipping through a well-thumbed copy of "The Wit & Wisdom of Mark Twain," his favorite author whom he often quoted. One quote had been underlined and marked by a star:
"There are only two forces that can carry light to all the corners of the globe — only two — the sun in the heavens and the Associated Press down here." - Mark Twain
He was surrounded by beloved family as he left this Earth. He is predeceased by his parents, and survived by his younger brother, Christopher Baldwin, former wife Toni Donina, his daughters, Carly Baldwin and Ashleigh Baldwin, and his grandson, Eli Hanlon.
Donations can be made in Baldwin's honor to the Buzzards Bay Coalition, which protects the water quality in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, where he loved to sail.