Memorial service honors Baldwin’s life

More than 250 people gathered April 26 at the First Lutheran Community Church for a memorial service to honor the life of MoonDogs, Too owner Darryl Baldwin.

Baldwin, 57, died April 23 after a long battle with cancer.

The audience included several city and district officials, business owners, community members, family and friends.

A photograph of Baldwin was placed in the center the church’s platform along with several arrangements of flowers. Two of Baldwin’s friends and his younger brother spoke during the service.

Church Pastor Adrian Bonaro said Baldwin grew up in a Lutheran church in North Dakota.

Bonaro noted the reason quilts were draped over the church pews were that they will be sent to people in need.

“One thing that drew Darryl to this congregation was that we both had a strong passion to help people in need,” said Bonaro. “That is the reason Darryl wanted the service here because of the connection we had made together in the community.”

Bonaro said the memorial service is a time of sharing stories.

“You just don’t have to share the good stories about Darryl at the bar. You can share them at the church, too,” said Bonaro. “We are meant to share those stories together. We are meant to remember the real Darryl. The Darryl that was a real person who loved all of you so much.”

The middle life

David Simonson said Baldwin’s life is divided into three parts: the beginning at the farm, the middle and the end at MoonDogs.

“I’m here today as the middle man,” said Simonson, who became friends with Baldwin while they attended North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, N.D.

They have been friends for 39 years and worked in the same industry in California.

Simonson said Baldwin’s life between the farm and MoonDogs was important and positive.

“That is why I am here today. The middle is important,” said Simonson. “It had set the stage and developed his work ethic. You have to work to get paid.”

Simonson said Baldwin’s positive outlook on life was key and he learn it from role models like his father.

He said Baldwin told him that the biggest changes in his life was his children, past bosses, discovering he had cancer, the traveling he did after the cancer and MoonDogs.

Simonson said when he asked Baldwin about skills most important for him at MoonDogs, Baldwin replied, “I had to learn how to trust people.”

“This was not the Darryl I had met 39 years ago at college. Some of the characteristic remained the same, but he had adjusted,” said Simonson. “Adjusting was nothing new to Darryl. He was so unafraid of change during points in his life. He embraced change.”

Simonson said if he had one word to describe Baldwin it would be “competitive.” He said Baldwin told him that buying MoonDogs was the hardest decision he ever made.

“We knew he would make it work,” he said.

Simonson said he’ll miss Baldwin’s eyes and smile.

“When I stop and think about Darryl and can’t help but think about those eyes — the ones that don’t miss a single detail — and a smile that let you know every thing was okay,” Simonson said crying.

The business owner

Bob Abel, who met Baldwin after he moved to Port Orchard, said that the memorial service should have happened weeks ago.

“His life force was too strong and he did not know how to shut it off,”  joked Abel.

Abel said while life isn’t fair, Baldwin was.

“He was more than fair. If you made a mistake, you got a second chance. Probably a third, fourth and fifth,” he said. “Darryl was able to see people’s strengths, not their weaknesses. He made everyone feel important because he knew they were. He made everyone feel special and important.”

Abel said the free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were ways Baldwin helped to give back to the community.

“Those dinners didn’t make us feel good about Darryl and his staff,” said Abel. “They made us feel good about Port Orchard.”

Abel said Baldwin cared about his MoonDogs’ staff.

“He cared about his staff, not just as employees but as individuals,” Abel said. “He could see each person’s strength and helped them to see it. He boasted their self confidence and gave them a sense of ownership in the businesses.”

Abel said Baldwin was an “outstanding businessman” and his greatest assets were the people that surrounded him.

“He earned their love and respect and cared for them. They felt the same away about him,” Abel said.

Touching lives

Kerry Baldwin’s said that his brother touched so many lives, but that his family has been touched by Baldwin’s friends.

“You touched my brother’s heart,” he said.

Kerry Baldwin read Esslesiastes 3:1-8 and Psalm 23 during the memorial service.

He said that Baldwin, during the last days of his life, talked about opportunities he had missed and the messes he had made.

“God’s a big god. He’ll forgive you of your messes,” Kerry Baldwin said. “In the last days, he found God, the real meaning in life and what he had been searching for.”

During the memorial service message, Bonaro related Baldwin’s life to several scriptures from Matthew 24.

“Over a meal, the disciples got to know Jesus. Over a meal, many of you got to know Darryl,” he said.

Bonaro said the connections Baldwin made with people were important.

“That connection that you made, person to person. The difference you can make when you get to know the person as they really are,” Bonaro said.

The audience was dismissed as to one of Baldwin’s favorite songs — “Spirit in the Sky” — being played over the church’s sound system.

Afterwards, family and friends met in the church’s fellowship hall for refreshments. Later that day, a time of remembering Baldwin was held during an “open mic” session at MoonDogs.


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