Don Norman Baugh
July 19, 1940 - January 29, 2021
By David R. Kenney
Our family moved from Weirton, WV to Centralia, IL the summer of 1980. The first half of 1980 was difficult on our family, and we were looking for a fresh start. It was a difficult move for me as a thirteen-year-old, but it was difficult for the entire family. Still, in the course of time we would call Centralia home for several years even after my parents moved away and I was married.
A family we became close to at the 161 Church of Christ (so-called by IL Route 161 which passes in front of the building) was Don and Mary Baugh. They lived at 2 Bel Air Drive, and I still think of them every time I pass that street though I have not been down it in decades. The Baugh’s house was near the end of a cul-de-sac and had seen a lot of young people and all kinds of interesting events that come with them. Though I never saw the neighbors across the street, I flattened their metal trash cans with my car backing into their driveway on more than one occasion. I am sure they did not appreciate that. I am also sure that they did not care for my car horn blaring in the middle of the night for no reason. Blaring that awakened Don Baugh to come out in his pajama bottoms and disconnect the malfunctioning horn.
When I was in Junior High School, I rode the bus to school. But when I entered Centralia High School there was no bus to come to our road to pick us up. No matter. I walked over to Barbara Martin’s place and waited with her son Johnny (my future brother-in-law) to catch a ride with him and his Uncle Don. Johnny told me on more than one occasion that his Uncle Don was more of a father to him than his own. I would understand more in time. Don and Mary have three boys: Russell, Doug, and Wade. I was privileged to know all of them to one degree or another, but when we moved to Centralia only Wade was living at home. Johnny was their fourth brother and son to Don. It is a relationship that has endured, grown, and strengthened. So much so, I only refer to Johnny as “brother-in-law” for the sake of accuracy in writing. When he married my sister, he became the brother I never had but will always cherish regardless of circumstance.
When we all first met, we were teenagers in the Teenage Bible Class. We were wearied with class books and fill-in-the-blank lesson plans. Don was one of our teachers along with David Davenport and Steve Donahoo. I think they were the only three courageous enough to take the class. We wanted to study the Bible directly without a class book. Don Baugh was prepared for such a task, equipped with his copy of Halley’s Bible Handbook. It was his go-to source on various questions relating to the books of the Bible we studied. He liked to pronounce his name “Hawley” but we were taught “Hailey” as the correct pronunciation. If there was a question he could not answer, he would say “Let’s consult Mr. Hawley!” Don fielded our questions and we learned. I will always think of him and when I examine my copy of Halley’s Bible Handbook.
There was a time when the Baughs were considering relocating to Colorado soon after we arrived. I was very saddened by this because we had already become close to them. It was an agonizing wait to see what would happen, but they remained at 2 Bel Air Drive for many years before moving to Holiday Shores, IL. Don was born in Texas, and they came to Illinois from Hobbs, NM which is where Mary and her sister, Barbara, were from. I have heard so many stories relating to Hobbs, NM that I felt like I have been there. Don worked for Shell Oil Company when we met him. He was on the front-end of a lot of computer work that would be some time before we would learn in school. I recall one of the signs he had hanging in his home office “To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.” One of my favorite pictures of him resides in my memory. It is a picture of him in a repair shop of sorts with all kinds of gadgets, equipment, TVs, electronics, etc. surrounding him. I was convinced he could fix anything, and I have never been proven wrong. And we put him to the test!
When our family moved across town to the Central City area, we had to cut wood for heat. We never had to do that before. No matter! Don would bring a pickup truck, chain saws, Johnny, and Wade. Dad and I would go with them to cut down the trees for firewood. I believe Don taught my father how to operate a chain saw, as he never had occasion to use one. There were several early days with your breath blowing in the cold air as the chainsaws ran and we picked up the pieces for the truck. Then, there was taking it all back to the house where we ran a log splitter to split and stack the wood. It was hard work, but it was enjoyable work. Some may be tempted to call it “manly work,” but not Don Baugh. No, he would exclaim it was "Manly work, period!"
He referred to his wife, Mary, in one of two terms of affection: Squaw or Woman. It was a sight to see them interact. Mary ran a babysitting operation at the house. The road often seemed crowded with parents bringing their kids to their place to catch the bus then pick them up there after school. Some were too young for school, so they were put to work around the house with various chores. Sure, there was TV to watch and fun to be had too. The house was always bustling with activity.
I remember Mary was the first one to make me spaghetti with mushrooms in it. I thought it was great, but my dad was not a fan of mushrooms and he detested garlic. Mom cooked to dad’s standard of taste. I recall Don having mom’s version of chili once. He blurted out “This is not chili. It’s chili soup!” He was right, but that was the way dad liked it.
Don and Mary were father and mother (or uncle and aunt) to many young people who were not blood related. For some, they may have been their second mother or father. They were quite a team who used their talents to the benefit of others. There is no way to know how many people they have helped along the way.
Don had a wonderful sense of humor. Some stories I could tell here but I will refrain except for one which was my dad’s favorite. We had a huge yard to mow in Central City including a trench (or moat) in the front. Dad asked mom to put the riding mower away, as he had to open the church building up for a program. Mom looked and supposed dad had missed a section of the yard out front. Well, she buried the riding mower to the deck attempting to mow it! She decided to call Mary Baugh. “No problem,” Mary said. “I’ll pull it right out with the van.” Mary buried the van down to the axle. She called Don out to help. Don came out, examined the situation, and exclaimed “You crazy women!” The next day a farmer and his tractor tried to get the van out, but it became stuck too! It took a wrecker and a driver smart enough to stay on the paved road to pull them all out! It was one of my dad’s favorite stories to tell, but Mary and mom don’t enjoy the telling as much.
The last time I saw Don was on February 1, 2015. It was a difficult year, as my father died of brain cancer the month prior. Don and Mary had come all the way to Martinsburg, WV to be with my parents for their 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration a few weeks prior so I had just seen them. Johnny had told me that I should not be surprised to see Don and Mary come hear me preach at Tri-City Church of Christ that Sunday. I sometimes preach there on my way to attend the Freed-Hardeman University Bible Lectureship. I was delighted to see them. Don came up to me afterwards and shook my hand. Now, I favor my father in not only physical appearance but in voice and mannerisms. In fact, we would often fool Mary on the phone when she called thinking she was speaking to the other person. Don shook my hand and said “I wanted to hear your father preach just one more time. Today, I got my wish.”
Don contracted cancer once again. His health began a steady decline. We often wanted to go and see Don and Mary, but there just was not time. Then, when the pandemic came, we would be too much of a risk to his health to come. Don Baugh was one of the greatest Christian men I have ever known, and I look forward to seeing him again.
Don N. Baugh, 80, passed away at 3:49am on Friday, January 29, 2021, at his residence. He was born on July 19, 1940, in San Angelo, Texas, the son of the late John Norman and Zula Lee (Duvall) Baugh. He married Mary Bryant on July 26, 1958, in Hobbs, New Mexico, and she survives. Other survivors include four sons and a daughter in law: Russell and Kim Baugh of Holiday Shores, Doug Baugh of Holiday Shores, Wade Baugh of Centralia, Illinois, John Martin of Centralia, Illinois, and daughter and son in law: Susan and Jason Petrea of Centralia, Illinois, ten grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren, one brother: Dennis Baugh of Hobbs, New Mexico and one sister Norma Lee Baugh-Riley of Hobbs, NM, in addition to many beloved nieces, nephews, family and friends.
He met Mary Bryant at the drive-in in Hobbs, NM where they both worked in 1958. Don also worked in construction in his younger days, in addition to Texas-Tech in Lubbock, TX, and the phone company in Brownfield, TX. Don was employed for over thirty-three years as a communication and computer technician for Shell Pipeline in various locations starting in Springfield, MO, then in Wood River, Centralia (Patoka), and finally back in Wood River, IL. He retired from Shell Pipeline in 1999. He was a member of the Church of Christ where he was active as an elder and teacher, always focusing on helping those in need. He was active in supporting the work of several missions, as well as hurricane and flood relief. He and his wife, Mary, helped at Christian Family Services in St. Louis. He and Mary loved traveling together and with family. They attended several spring-training seasons in Jupiter, FL with the St. Louis Cardinals. Don was a big fan of the Star Trek Sci-Fi series.
Most importantly, Don was focused on his family, doting on grandkids, then great-grandkids. Family gatherings in their home were a passion of his. Home projects and yardwork were a constant, as was his four-legged sidekick, Luci.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Hershel Baugh.
In celebration of his life, graveside services will be held at 1pm on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, at St. James Cemetery in Edwardsville. Burial will follow. Due to the current Covid – 19 restrictions, face masks will be required and social distancing guidelines will be adhered to. Friends may attend the graveside service – please maintain proper distancing protocol.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Godfrey Church of Christ or to the Christian Family Services in St. Louis.