Topsfield, Ma — Eleanor Mead Baldwin, 90, a longtime resident of New Canaan, Conn., who ignored the conventions of her generation by going back to work before her kids were grown, first as a reporter, and later, as a public school teacher in Wilton, died recently in Topsfield, Mass.
Eleanor, known to all as "Pat," scored her first reporting job in 1945, after graduating from Wellesley College. She landed at the Baltimore bureau of The Associated Press when WWII was drawing to a close, and men were still in short supply. “I was standing over the proverbial steaming sink,” she wrote later, “my brother’s dinner in the oven, and his children quarreling too well within earshot, when the Press Association job offer came my way.” Scrambling to meet deadlines looked “like a day in the country next to housework,” she added.
For the rest of her life, Pat resisted the lure of tidy drawers and coat closets, preferring to zigzag between work and kids by day — aided by her signature to-do lists — and to squander evenings reading detective stories, cross-examining her famously laconic husband, Bill, and organizing their next game of bridge.
Her husband, William H. Baldwin Jr. died in 1997, after retiring as a vice president of the National Foreign Trade Council. Pat is survived by their children, Deborah, William, Douglas, and Susan; and is also survived by Irene, Sarah, and Henry Jacqz; and six other grandchildren.
Her wit helped carry her through difficult times, including a stint at a nursing home in Topsfield, where staff members said she used humor to deflect unease — theirs, as well as hers.
One of them remembers finding her flat on the floor one day, long after Parkinson’s had robbed much of her speech and mobility. She had been trying to stand when her legs gave out. Never one to curse, she declared, “That was fun. Let’s do it again.”
ARRANGEMENTS: A memorial service has not yet been planned.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Haiti Projects, Inc., 136 Rantoul St., Beverly, MA 01915, or http://haitiprojects.org.