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SLIDESHOW | Tribute honors Baldwin's contributions, service to community
During the past seven years, MoonDogs, Too owner Darryl Baldwin has been involved in various events, sponsorships and serving hundreds of free meals during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But for the past four years, the 57-year-old North Dakota native has been battling stage 4 Merkel cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. Doctors found three new tumors in December and informed Baldwin, who was undergoing chemotherapy, they were inoperable.
Before cancer can claim Baldwin, community members came together Jan. 2 to pay tribute to a father, friend and business owner for his dedication to the community he fell in love with in 2007.
Amy’s On The Bay, which hosted the gathering, was packed wall-to-wall with more than 250 people who came to say thanks for Baldwin’s time and service in Port Orchard.
After his entrance with girlfriend Sheila Cline and family, hugs and handshakes awaited the ever-smiling Baldwin as he walked slowly through his friends and supporters. Several members of MoonDogs’ staff also attended the event.
As Baldwin sat with Cline and his family, master of ceremony “The Great Cris” Larsen, a comedian from Bremerton, opened up the formalities reading a brief biography on Baldwin. Then Mayor Tim Matthes was handed the microphone.
The mayor presented him with a photograph of Baldwin’s daughter accepting one of Matthes’ Points of Light awards in the summer.
“The picture now resides where it should be,” said Matthes, who has had the photo on his mayor’s desk for the past six months.
“Darryl truly is the reason for Points of Light,” Matthes said. “He lives the Points of Light Award.”
Also, Matthes presented a proclamation that cited Jan. 1-7 as “Darryl Baldwin Appreciation Week.”
South Kitsap Helpline Executive Director Jennifer Hardison thanked Baldwin and his staff for their generosity.
“You guys are amazing for what you’ve done with your generosity,” Hardison said. “Nobody compares and we are truly blessed to know you and the MoonDogs staff. We love you and think you are the best.”
Captain Sherry Barnhart also praised Baldwin and his staff for their generosity and dedicated community service.
“He has a staff he calls family and customers he calls friends,” Barnhart said. “He is a man of distinguished courage and abilities, with lofty principles, high integrity and morals, a man who has made a selfless dedication of himself to us — the community. A man who commands our attention. A hero.”
She then presented a toast on Baldwin’s accomplishments.
“It was always a pleasure to work with you and you have done fantastic things for this community during those year’s I have been here,” said former Port Orchard police chief Al Townsend.
Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido said she was honored to attend the event.
“This is just one token on how much the world loves you,” she said.
Garrido said since Baldwin arrived in 2007, she found him to be a kind and generous man who also is humble.
“He has been very, very good to our community,” she said. “Our coming out tonight is just one small thank you for all you give to Kitsap County and to Port Orchard.”
Councilman Jerry Child congratulated Baldwin on his life.
“Congratulations on being admired and respected, and making a difference in the community,” Childs said. “No one will doubt that Darryl Baldwin will be missed.”
Carolyn Powers, a former longtime councilwoman, said Baldwin always greeted her with a smile or hug.
“He is just one of our crown jewels,” Powers said.
Sixth Congressional District Rep. Derek Kilmer said MoonDogs, Too is like “Cheers” — the TV sitcom.
“I was trying to think what character you (Baldwin) were,” Kilmer said. “I think you have the best part of all of those characters.”
Kilmer told Baldwin to look around him and see the impact he has on the community.
Councilwoman Cindy Lucarelli, with tears in her eyes, thanked Baldwin for bringing the community together.
“We have been quite fractured and you have been a healing force,” she said.
Larsen said Port Orchard was the town Baldwin wanted to live in, then gave the microphone to Baldwin.
“I resisted moving to Port Orchard for five years,” Baldwin said. “There was MoonDogs the business, then there was Darryl’s personal life in Tacoma.”
Baldwin said a woman came into his life two years ago.
“She came into my life knowing I had cancer, knowing there was a risk, but she wanted to take care of me,” Baldwin said of Cline.
“In the last two years, I have gotten more involved in the community and knowing each of you personally. I wish I would have done that seven years ago. You are all wonderful people and so amazing to be part of Port Orchard.”
Despite the city being fractured, Baldwin said he made friends on both sides.
“To be honest, everybody wants the best for Port Orchard no matter what their political thought or what you think their personal agenda is — it’s about Port Orchard,” he said. “If anything comes out of this, I want you to keep that in mind as you move forward. These are all wonderful people.”
He urged people not to rely on Facebook or the daily newspaper.
Baldwin thanked the people for the tribute — organized by former mayor Lary Coppola — and for those who attended.
“I am so blessed and overwhelmed,” Baldwin said. “I can’t believe you all came out just to see me.”
Baldwin also said MoonDogs would continue as an employee-owned business.
“Whatever you see today is what you will see next year,” Baldwin said. “The staff that is going to run MoonDogs shares my philosophy, the commitment to the community and they are all Port Orchard people.”
“There is nothing better than locals taking care of locals,” said Larsen in closing.