Hoke County Commissioner Lonnie Baldwin dies

Hoke County Commissioner Lonnie Baldwin dies

[Photo: Commissioner Lonnie Baldwin (File photo)]

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • Hoke County Commissioner Lonnie Baldwin died Monday, January 30 at the age of 70.

The county board announced his passing Tuesday morning, “with profound sadness and heavy heart.”

“We are all deeply saddened by the passing of Commissioner Baldwin. This is a tremendous loss for all of us. Commissioner Baldwin faithfully served Hoke County for over two years, and dedicated his life to serving and helping others. Commissioner Baldwin’s strong leadership and deep compassion for people made him a valued member on the Hoke County Board of Commissioners,” the county board said in a statement.

“The Hoke County Board of Commissioners always had the deepest respect and admiration for Commissioner Baldwin, and we were honored and proud to work with him throughout the years.  He will be greatly missed by the Hoke County Board of Commissions and the Staff of Hoke County Government. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the late Commissioner’s wife Ava and his children as they grieve their loss.”

Baldwin graduated with the Hoke County High School Class of 1971. He went on to earn an associate’s degree of applied science (AAS) in operational management technology from Fayetteville Technical Community College. He pursued higher education at multiple institutions.

Baldwin was a veteran who served in the United States Army in the Vietnam era. He worked for more than 25 years in academic libraries in the area of information science technology. At the time of his first run for office in Hoke County, he had most recently worked as a classroom evening coordinator at Campbell University on the Fort Bragg campus.

Baldwin was first elected to the Hoke County Board of Commissioners in 2020. He defeated incumbent Bobby Wright in the Democratic primary election in March of 2020 and went on to win a seat on the board in the general election in November of that year.

“I think we tried to run a positive campaign, we tried to address the issues that affect the citizens of our county and I’m excited about it,” Baldwin told the News-Journal upon his election victory.

In a Q&A during his campaign, Baldwin told citizens he wanted to work toward prosperity and safety for the future.

“To the citizens of Hoke County we must decide what critical path to take in order to ensure our children and grandchildren a future they can depend on. Your choice is clear. Vote for a leader that will work for better paying jobs and wages, safer schools, safe communities, better roads for our communities,” Baldwin said at the time. “We must promote more programs that address entrepreneurship and innovation. Economic growth only comes by increasing the quality and quantities of the factors of production which consist of land, labor, capital and entrepreneurship. I will work to keep your TRUST Hoke County.”

Commission Chairman Allen Thomas served with Baldwin during his time on the board. Baldwin was wise and a peacemaker, the chairman said.

“Commissioner Baldwin was an easygoing, wise decision-maker. He made all of us better as county commissioners,” Thomas said. “He was a bridge. With him on the board, we didn’t face many arguments or obstacles because he served as a gatekeeper to peace.”

Baldwin continued attending commission meetings, sometimes by video conference, through the last months of his life. He also attended several meetings in person, always asking questions of presenters to clarify on topics and seeking to understand before the board took a vote on any matter.

The commissioner was especially passionate about helping children and senior citizens in the community, Thomas said.

“He had a focus on making sure our seniors were taken care of as well as our youth,” he said.

Baldwin worked to champion summer jobs for youth in the county, and made sure they were paid for their efforts. He also worked on projects to clean up Hoke’s roadsides, even taking the time to volunteer in picking up trash himself alongside others seeking to clean up the county.

“He was very proactive and he was a man of the people, and we will miss him dearly,” Thomas said.

Commissioner Tony Hunt described Baldwin as someone with a great love for Hoke County and its citizens.

“Mr. Baldwin was a great commissioner to work with. He loved Hoke County and wanted the very best for all the citizens of Hoke County,” Hunt said. “We’re losing a great member of our community and our political party in Mr. Baldwin. I wish his family the best, and we’re praying for them.”

Commission Vice Chairman James Leach said the county had lost one of its leaders. The board is grieving Baldwin’s loss – “we’re like brothers on that board,” he said.

“Hoke County is very much blessed to have had him to serve, and we’ll all miss him,” Leach said. “We’re keeping his family in our prayers, and want to thank his family so much for letting us have him serve in a leadership role with us as long as he did.”

Commissioner Harry Southerland praised Baldwin’s dedication to Hoke County. His service was a gift, Southerland said.

“He was a commissioner that was really dedicated to serve in this community. He was determined to serve and he served us well,” he said. “Our lives are God’s gift to us and what we do with our lives is our gift to God. The gift he gave back to God was his gift of service.”

Baldwin supported many long-reaching measures during his time on the board, including votes for expanding sewer service in Rockfish and choosing companies to work on designing the county’s new courthouse. The commissioner served as the county’s representative on multiple other committees and groups, including the Hoke County Board of Health. He backed plans for the county’s new Parks and Recreation aquatic center, saying during the groundbreaking in February 2021, “This is a very historic day here in Hoke County and I’m more than happy to be a part of it. It’s a vision, it’s a dream, and dreams do come true.”

At the time, Baldwin particularly expressed his care for children in Hoke County with special needs.

“There are children who have special needs, children with learning disabilities, children with handicaps. We must address it and we must address it today,” he said. “This is a day that our children can look forward, that they can meet some of their potential and go out and be some of the best that they can be in this world.”

During his years in office, Baldwin also put his voice behind efforts by the Tylertown community to re-launch its local fire station.

“We’re very committed to your concern, and you and I have dialogued repeatedly, and I gave you my word on what I could do, I will do that. I understand your cry and we’re going to address it in the most effective way we know how,” Baldwin told organizers at a meeting in December 2021. With commissioners’ support, the fire department reopened under its own management.

The chairman said the board members plan to turn their efforts toward honoring Baldwin and will be praying for his family. He was more than a commissioner: he was a husband, brother, father, and grandfather, Thomas said.

The board has 60 days to make a determination about selecting a commissioner to serve out the rest of Baldwin’s term in office. They will consult with his affiliated party, Hoke County Democratic Party. But first Baldwin’s fellow commissioners want to focus on him and his family, the chairman said.

“We’re going to focus on making sure he’s laid to rest. After that’s done the board of commissioners will decide how we’ll move forward in selecting a new county commissioner,” Thomas said.  

Funeral Information
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
1 p.m.
Cape Fear Conference B Headquarters
10225 Fayetteville Road
Raeford, North Carolina 28376

McAllister Family Cemetery
1554 Chisholm Road
Raeford, North Carolina 28376

Sympathy cards may be sent to:
Ava McAllister-Baldwin & Family
635 Best Street
Raeford, North Carolina 28376

Flower arrangements may be sent to:
Doby’s Funeral Home
1382 N. Main Street
Raeford, North Carolina 28376
Phone: 910-875-4136

*The Baldwin Family request that all attendees wear masks for Funeral Services @ Cape Fear Conference B Headquarters.

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