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1 July 2007 IN MEMORIAM: PAUL HERBERT BALDWIN, 1913–2006
Charles van Riper III
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Paul Herbert Baldwin, a member of the AOU since 1947, an Elective Member (1953) and Fellow (1976), passed away on 26 September 2006 at the age of 93 in his home in Ashland, Oregon. Paul was born on 26 February 1913, in Berkeley, California, to George H. and Corrine B. Baldwin. His childhood was spent in Berkeley, where he developed an early interest in science and the natural world. In this, he followed a family tradition of scientists that included a chemist, physician, civil engineer, and amateur naturalist. His mother collected shells and evergreen cones and taught him the elementals of observation and collection techniques. He applied these skills in many ways throughout his long life, being a meticulous and careful scientist.

Paul graduated from the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) with a B.S. in Zoology in 1936. He then moved to Hawaii and worked at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for several years with the Civilian Conservation Corp. Paul met his future wife, Sarah, in Hawaii, and they married in 1940, living in the Park until the late 1940s. He had a strong interest in ecology and entomology, discovered a new species of Hawaiian insect, and worked on the introduced mongoose before he began to focus on birds. Paul conducted the first intensive behavioral study of the Hawaiian honeycreepers, and this served as material for his Ph.D. dissertation, which was accepted by UCB in 1950. He published this work in 1953, in University of California Publications in Zoology, and the material remains one of the most important papers written on native Hawaiian birds. During his undergraduate and graduate years, he also served on staff at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in Berkeley and at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

After Paul received his Ph.D. in 1950, he and Sarah moved to Ft. Collins, Colorado, where he took a faculty position in the Department of Zoology at Colorado State University (CSU). During his 28-year tenure at Colorado State University, Paul and his graduate students continued to study complex ecosystems, particularly the interaction of woodpeckers and Engelmann Spruce beetles in Rocky Mountain forests, and the avian ecology of the Pawnee Grassland Biome in eastern Colorado. Paul taught embryology and ornithology at CSU; in the latter, he always saved the final lectures of his course for the adaptive radiation of the Hawaiian honeycreepers. Although Paul was a quiet and reserved man, his enthusiasm during those few lectures encouraged many, including me, to find out more about those amazing Hawaiian birds and their unique ecosystems. Paul also taught for a number of summers at the University of Montana Biological Station on Flathead Lake in western Montana, an experience that is still the source of many special memories for his family.

At the time of his retirement in 1978, Paul had the foresight to distribute his field notes to various scientists and libraries. I was fortunate enough to receive four field notebooks from his early work in Hawaii—small green notebooks with meticulous notes and illustrations. He had diagrams of avian pox on House Finch legs that looked so realistic, and a text so moving, that it was like being transported back to the 1930s on Mauna Loa. These unpublished notes assisted me significantly in unraveling the sequence of avian disease arrival in the Hawaiian Islands. In addition, his monograph on the Hawaiian hon- eycreepers has served as a foundation for much of the behavioral work conducted on these birds. Paul never lost his interest in and knowledge of Hawaii, and one of his last professional papers, published in 1983, dealt with the diet of the newly discovered honeycreeper, the Po’ouli. The coauthor of this paper, Tonnie Casey, said that even after all the years away from Hawaii, Paul could name every insect part that they found in the crops of those first two birds of this new species. Paul’s last trip to Hawaii was to attend the 1997 Cooper Ornithological Society (COS) meeting in Hilo, where he and his family revisited forests that he had not seen in more than half a century. At that meeting, he asked me whether the Akiapola’au was still in the forests; I replied that it was, and he said, “then everything is still OK.” Studies in Avian Biology No. 22, which resulted from that meeting, was dedicated to Paul for his seminal work on the wildlife in Hawaii. He was a long-term member of the COS and served as Secretary.

After his retirement from CSU in 1978, Paul and Sarah moved to Redwood Valley, California. Sarah pursued interests in plant ecology, birding, gardening and traveling. Paul learned and practiced calligraphy, rug-making, wine-making, and cultivation of fruit trees, and continued his avid interest in reading. He not only made numerous hooked rugs that lined the walls of his house but, according to his graduate student Roger Boyd, also produced a wide variety of high-quality wines. Continuing their naturalist activities, Paul and Sarah developed their rural property into a miniature nature preserve and did extensive baseline studies of plants and birds at the Boggs Lake and Anderson Marsh wetlands areas. They lived in Redwood Valley for nearly 25 years.

In 2002, Paul moved to Ashland to live with his oldest son, Tom, where he continued to enjoy traveling and his other pastimes until the final months of his life. Paul’s last days were spent in the presence of family members and community caregivers, for whom he set a fine example of how to leave this life in a graceful and spiritual manner. Paul is survived by his children, Tom Baldwin of Ashland, Oregon, Owen and Charlene Baldwin of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Carol Baldwin of Missoula, Montana; nine grandchildren; and three great- grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Sarah in 2002 and his brother George. He was a teacher and a student until the very end, and those who shared his journey feel grateful and blessed.

Paul Herbert Baldwin, 1913–2006 (Photograph courtesy of Colorado State University, Archives and Special Collections)

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Charles van Riper III "IN MEMORIAM: PAUL HERBERT BALDWIN, 1913–2006," The Auk 124(3), 1088-1089, (1 July 2007). https://doi.org/10.1642/0004-8038(2007)124[1088:IMPHB]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 July 2007
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