Baldwin, John

Dr. John Charles Baldwin

September 23, 1948 - April 3, 2016

Dr. John Charles Baldwin passed away on Sunday, April 3, following a swimming accident that occurred along the Pacific coastline in San Diego, California. He was sixty-seven years old. Dr. Baldwin’s life and career was accompanied by a record of extraordinary accomplishments, and his dedication to service touched the lives of untold patients, families, and colleagues. To those that knew him, he was a father, a husband, a doctor, a mentor, a historian, an activist, and a protector. He is survived by his two sons, Benjamin Baldwin of Dallas, Texas, and Andrew Baldwin of New Haven, Connecticut, and his grandson Jack Baldwin of Dallas, Texas. He was preceded in death by his eldest son, Alistair Baldwin of Boston, Massachusetts. 

The only child of Charles and Annabel Baldwin, John was born in Fort Worth, Texas, where he lived until the age of 5 when the severity of his childhood asthma compelled his parents to move – sight unseen – to Las Cruces, New Mexico, in search of a climate better-suited to his condition. The asthma subsided, and John excelled as a varsity athlete, class president, and school valedictorian. He attended Harvard College, where among other accolades, he was awarded the Wendell Scholarship, elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honors society, graduated summa cum laude, and was selected for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Following the requisite year of study at Oxford, he began medical school at Stanford University, and after completing both medical and surgical residencies at Massachusetts General Hospital, he returned to Stanford to complete his training in cardiothoracic surgery under the tutelage of world-renowned surgeon, Dr. Norman Shumway. His career ultimately led him to Yale University, where he served as Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and performed the first successful heart-lung transplant on the East Coast, then to Baylor College of Medicine, where he succeeded Dr. Michael DeBakey as Chairman of the Department of Surgery. In accordance with his life-long dedication to academics, he further served as Dean of Dartmouth Medical School, President of the Immune Disease Institute at Harvard, and finally returned to his native Texas when he was appointed President of the Health Sciences Center at Texas Tech University.

John’s life pursuits transcended his work as a practicing physician. He was a passionate advocate for universal access to healthcare and human rights within the United States and abroad, and unwaveringly championed his convictions through national publications, governmental hearings, and friendly personal debate.  In recognition of these efforts, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the U.S. Defense Health Board – a federal advisory committee responsible for overseeing military healthcare. Though he never considered himself to be a “businessman,” the breadth of his experience resulted in his participation on directorial boards of several Fortune 500 companies. An avid historian and admitted anglophile, John’s interest in the life of King Edward VIII began during his time at Oxford, and he derived great pleasure from his small archival collection and the opportunity to share his efforts through graduate and undergraduate coursework. True to his generation, he was an admirer of the Kennedys. He was honored by the relationships he formed with members of that esteemed family, and was proud to have served on the board of the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation in defense of human rights throughout the world. He was a member of the Harvard University Board of Overseers, and cherished his long-time association with the institution that he credited with nurturing his love of knowledge. He had a fondness for books, was an avid reader, and was himself a story-teller at heart. A proud Son of the Republic of Texas, he spent much of his free time at his ancestral home in Anna, Texas, where he sought to preserve and venerate his family’s legacy in the area. Most of all, he loved his family, who were blessed with the security of his unquestioned and unyielding support through any crisis – large or small. His life was one of extraordinary success and achievement, but he will be missed on a deeply personal level by the great many people that knew and loved him. 

A graveside service will be held at 11am on Saturday, April 16, at Highland Cemetery in Melissa, Texas.

A memorial is also planned to honor John’s life and career, to be held at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center on Wednesday, April 20, at 4:30pm in Lubbock, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in John’s memory to:

-  The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (

-  St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, McKinney, Texas (


Memorials Would you like to say a few words? Click Here +

John, I'm in dismay. I just found out about your passing today (1/13/17) You were such a wonderful man. We had a lot of fun times (especially traveling) Thank you for being so good to my family. We are very grateful that you were in our life for almost a decade! My hope is that you knew our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. Brittainy Hockaday - Thomas, January 13, 2017 I met Dr. Baldwin several years ago and we became friends. He was always willing to help in every way possible when I needed it. I am so saddened by his passing and will miss him. Jarrod Qualls, July 12, 2016 I am greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. John Charles Baldwin. I'm sending your family my most sincere condolences and deepest sympathy on this big loss. Dr.Svetlana Kishchenko School of Population and Public Health University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine 127-2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3 Tel: 604.822.3990 Email: Svetlana Kishchenko, June 13, 2016 I am shocked and saddened to hear of John's passing. In addition to being one of Las Cruces High School's "best and brightest", he was also a very kind, compassionate, caring man with a highly evolved sense of humor. He possessed that very rare ability to be both in the highest realm of intellect while still being "cool". John was truly a hero and an exceptional, standout individual. I am heartened to see that he has brought what seems to be 2 very fine young men into the world and grandchildren, as well. This world is much better off due to John's presence here for his 67 years. Not only his numerous extraordinary accomplishments, accolades and achievements that he accumulated, but from a karmic perspective, he truly gave much more to our planet and wellbeing than could be expected from a human being. My only major complaint about John is that I didn't spend anywhere near the amount of time with him since high school that I would have liked to. I now will cherish and deeply appreciate the two interactions that I had with him at previous reunions. My deepest condolences to the family. May you be strengthened by the fact that you were honored and blessed to have him in your lives and in the case of his sons and grandkids, in your genes and that you will be further blessed by passing those genes on. Whenever you start to miss, long and mourn him, do yourself a favor: Immediately stand up, look in a mirror or look at other offspring of him, either in photos or live, and be comforted by knowing that his soul, essence and sprit is still very strong and blessedly present in you and other offspring as well and will continue to live and thrive as long as his gene pool is passed on. To you, Mrs. Baldwin, you can be extremely proud and satisfied that you contributed to your wonderful family both genetically and in the loving years you spent with John. I actually was hoping that John would be attending the 50th reunion (I'll be missing the 49th) so that I could spend a few precious moments with him catching up and introducing him to my new family, my wife Monika and children Nathan and Lola, especially since he knew my parents whom they were named after. Instead, I will cherish his blessed memory. Sorry for the late response, but I just NOW was informed of his passing in the memorial section of our class reunion website. David Weiselman, June 6, 2016 It was a privilege to work with Dr Baldwin in his role as a member of the Defense Health Board. He will be greatly missed.
Doug Rouse, MD, April 27, 2016 Our family had known the Baldwin family, John and his parents since John started first grade here in Las Cruces, New Mexico, at Alameda Elementary School. He and our son were in the same grade and room and were good friends all through school. They graduated from Las Cruces High School together in May 1967. John was in our home numerous times during those twelve years and we loved him. He was a fine young man and excelled in the band and his academics. We were so sad to hear of his tragic death and our sympathy goes to his sons and family. May God bless and give you the strength and guidance you need at this sad time. The Carver Family, James, Jeanne, Keith and Sharon Carver King
Jeanne Carver, April 21, 2016 Our deepest sympathy to the Baldwin family. We have fond members of Dr. Baldwin both as a parent at St. Thomas's Day School and as a parishioner at St. Thomas's Church. He will be missed. Fondly, The Acquavita Family
Fred and Marie Acquavita, April 15, 2016 James West and family - Our deepest sympathies for your loss. May you find comfort in the memories made and the many many lives that John touched. God Bless
Marshall & Tracey Eidson, April 14, 2016 To family and friends of Dr. Baldwin, I am sorry for your loss. May your memories cause you to smile often in the days ahead. I hope the promises recorded at Revelation 21:3-5 be comforting to you during your time of grief.
Char, April 14, 2016 I had the privilege of being a part of the Baldwin Family for over 10 years. The times that saw Dr.John Baldwin were few. But what stood out the most was his love for his profession and his desire to see available health care in every corner of the world. This tragedy has taken a wonderful man who still had so much more he wanted to do for world health. A man who genuinely loved his fellow man . Cherished his friends and family. A man who the whole world will mourn. Dee Rice, April 12, 2016