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Robert James Baldwin

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Robert James Baldwin, a former River Falls resident, died November 15, 2009. Bob was born in Munich, Germany, in 1947, to then-Major James Baldwin and former-Red Cross and United Nations Relief Agency worker Margaret Albright.

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As the child of a military officer, Bob lived and went to school in several states; lengthier postings were in the New York City and Washington, D.C. areas. Bob attended St. Bridget's Parish School for his 4th and 5th grades. His family was living in River Falls while Lieutenant Colonel Baldwin was stationed in South Korea. In 1964, Bob graduated from Gonzaga College High School, a Jesuit boys' school in Washington, D.C.

Questioning the moral and strategic involvement of the United States in the civil war in Vietnam, Bob resigned from the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), an officer-commissioning elective college program. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University and was drafted into the United States Army five months later. For eighteen months, Bob was stationed in the Republic of South Korea, serving as a company clerk and telecommunications specialist.

Bob worked for almost a decade at the General Services Administration in Washington, D.C. President Jimmy Carter awarded Bob a Presidential Certificate of Appreciation in 1978 for his "contribution toward a more effective and responsive Federal government."

In 1972, Bob married co-worker Marilynne Felderman. They started a business in River Falls in the early 1980s, the MFB Corporation. Bob wrote software for weekly newspapers to manage their subscriptions and billings. The Ellsworth Herald publisher Jay Griggs was the first purchaser of the fledgling firm's product and services.

Bob was an algebraist with a special interest in groups of finite order. He took math classes at the University of Minnesota and at UW-River Falls. He regarded Dr. Lillian Gough of UW-RF as one of his finest professors and one of the best algebraists he'd encountered. Both were intrigued by Fermat's Last Theorem.

Bob carried his love of math to baseball, a fan of the Braves from their days in Milwaukee. In the early 1980s, Bob co-founded a rotisserie baseball league, The Heinie Manush League, writing a program to calculate the standings long before such services became available on the web. Jeremy Dumond of Hudson was recruited as assistant manager and says he learned his love of mathematics from the hours discussing baseball, numbers, and life with Bob.

In 1989, Bob ran in a special Democratic primary for the Wisconsin Senate. The vacant seat was won by William Berndt.

In 2001, Bob and Marilynne sold their business and relocated to Chicago when Bob was hired as the mathematical jack-of-all-trades by an options hedge fund.

Bob enjoyed playing tennis with his father and friends. Golf became a passion on area courses, with Hampton Wilmot, William J. Disney, and James A. Zimmerman frequent companions. Other friends competed at bridge or the board games "Ubi" and "The Third Reich."

For years, the Baldwins held an annual Sports Day, a local "Olympics" for family and friends at his mother's farm in River Falls Township. The family businesses also sponsored the "Colossal Leaping Dwarfs," another collection of friends and family, in the River Falls Days Volleyball Tournaments, garnering many poor finishes and one gratifying second place.

There will be no local memorial service. Bob requested that, should anyone be inclined to memorialize him, a donation be made to the local food shelves or domestic abuse shelters or to the Salvation Army.

Bob is preceded in death by his parents, Major General James L. Baldwin and Margaret Albright Baldwin; aunt and uncle, Maureen Albright McEwen and Judge William McEwen; cousin, Marquelle Gagnon, and his mother-in-law, Lucille Reeves Felderman.

Survivors include Bob's widow, Marilynne, and his siblings, Timothy Baldwin and Bic Vu of Illinois, Margaret (Meg) Baldwin of Florida, John Baldwin and Kate Winton of New Jersey; nephews and nieces, James C. Baldwin, Robert Bruce Baldwin, Erin Burns, and Kelsey Burns; Marilynne's family, Beverly Felderman and George Michael Lester of Virginia and Frederick (John) Felderman of Texas; and Bob's McEwen cousins, Mary Ellen and Hampton Wilmot of River Falls, Jean and Craig Rodby of Tennessee, and Margaret (Peg) Gagnon of Hudson.

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