Fern Burton Baldwin, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died Saturday, Feb. 13, at the age of 95, surrounded by her family, at Fairfield Village Retirement Community located in Layton, Utah.
Fern was born Jan. 3, 1926, in Afton, the last of six children, to George Fielding Burton and Mary Frances Poulter. Her mother, who had suffered from longstanding heart problems, died when Fern was three months old, after contracting influenza. Because Fern was so young when her mother died, she went to live with her Aunt Mamie and Uncle Chrissie Burton until she was 5 years old, before returning to live with her family. Her father, who never remarried, raised six children during the depression and Fern often spoke of how challenging those years were.
Growing up, she loved sports, especially softball, even winning the Softball Throw. She pitched and played centerfield, where she could easily make the throw to home plate. At bat, she was a natural, often hitting home runs. Early on, she developed a passion for animals, which was a source of joy her entire life.
In school, Fern loved reading, spelling, geography, math and music. Most of her life she sang in choirs, duets and trios, but she also enjoyed playing the piano and organ. In 1946, Fern was enrolled at Brigham Young University, studying music.
On Aug. 8, 1946, Fern married the love of her life, Dick Taggart Baldwin, in the Idaho Falls Temple. They shared a wonderful life together, starting out in Afton while waiting for Dick to begin his studies in civil and mechanical engineering at the University of Wyoming, where he attended on a wrestling scholarship.
Their daughter, Linda, was born while they were in school. Following graduation, they lived briefly in Afton, where their son, Dick, was born. In 1951, a job with Douglas Aircraft took them to Santa Monica, California, where their daughter Jeannie joined the family.
It was during their time in California that Fern grew to love the ocean and spent time there whenever she could. In 1956, the family was transferred to Geneva, Switzerland. Fern faced challenges of a new country, new language and a new life — all while Dick traveled internationally. Fern met those challenges head-on and embraced them all.
In 1960, the family returned to California for a few years, and then, in 1965, went back to Geneva, this time with North American Aviation. Geneva was home for two years, and then they relocated to Brussels, Belgium, which brought new challenges and experiences.
In Brussels, they started the first English-speaking branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In true Fern fashion, she mothered every missionary who crossed her path, no matter where they lived throughout the world. Times together in Europe produced wonderful family memories of skiing, traveling and of church service, which were treasured by Fern, Dick and their children.
In 1969, they moved back to California, where Dick began work with Lockheed Aircraft (still with extensive international travel), then in 1971, their home was destroyed in the Sylmar earthquake. They remained in southern California the next 16 years, until Dick died in 1985.
Fern relocated to Farmington, Utah, in 1988, to be closer to her family and a three-hour drive to her beloved Star Valley, where Dick is buried. Dick’s passing was Fern’s most difficult trial, but she found comfort with family, friends and service.
Fern lived nearly 36 years without “the love of her life,” but she threw herself into her church callings and community service. She served as a Relief Society president in Europe and twice in California, an ordinance worker in the Los Angeles and Bountiful temples, served a full-time church mission in Portland, Oregon; served a member statistical records mission and was a docent at the Beehive House in Salt Lake City.
She was extremely involved in the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers organization, which focuses on preserving the history of the men and women who founded Utah. Fern also was deeply devoted to genealogy. Fern once said that she would never belong to the church’s “singles group,” but, when called, she said yes and suddenly found herself leading 23 ladies who became her dear friends. She renamed the group The Triple E’s: Enable us to Enjoy and Endure.
In 2017, Fern moved to Fairfield Village Retirement Community in Layton, Utah, where she grew close to many who lived and worked there. Fern always treasured every moment and showed faith and courage through her trials. One of her many sayings, which characterizes her philosophy of life, is, “We always have a home, it’s just that sometimes we don’t have a house to put it in.” She was a light to all those who had the pleasure of knowing her.
Fern is survived by Hermoine Petersen, sister-in-law (Colorado / Georgia); Linda and Doug Skeen (Reno/Tahoe); Dick and Janet Baldwin (Layton); Jeannie and Michael Montgomery (Boise); 12 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren.
A graveside service will be held Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Afton Cemetery in Afton, for immediate family only due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Services entrusted to Lindquist’s Layton Mortuary, 1867 No. Fairfield Rd., Layton, Utah.
Condolences may be shared at www.lindquistmortuary.com.