Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

December 5, 2012

‘It’s easy to see her as an angel’

Memories of LaPoynor educator bring laughter, tears

ATHENS — LARUE — It’s times like these when phrases get tossed around such as, “so-and-so lost the battle against cancer.”

But nobody around the LaPoynor Independent School District could really picture Holly Baldwin losing anything as they’ve reflected on her life this week.

She won the heart of her family by exhibiting a dedication to which maybe only a mother can relate.

She won the respect and love of her fellow faculty members by pouring herself out to her students, holding them to a no-nonsense standard that was equally tough and overflowing with compassion.

Shock slammed head-on into those students as school administrators explained Tuesday that Mrs. Baldwin would not be coming back to school.

As the tears flowed, those administrators offered up the best way to explain to those third, fourth and fifth graders how to process the news.

So they told them about Mrs. Baldwin’s latest — and greatest — victory.

“Today, she’s an angel,” elementary school principal Marsha Mills recalled telling the students. “For them, it was easy to see Mrs. Baldwin as an angel.”

Baldwin, 45, succumbed to cancer Monday in Tyler. She had been battling for three years against the disease, which started as breast cancer before metastasizing to her brain.

Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. today at New York Baptist Church. The entire LaPoynor Independent School District will close an hour-and-a-half prior, giving employees, friends and students a final chance to say good-bye.

On December 21, 2011, Baldwin was told by her doctors in Houston that she had three months to live. Exhibiting a toughness by which she had become known, she defied those calculations for nearly a full year.

In the final months of her life, Baldwin would frustrate friends with her stubborn determination to come to work at LaPoynor Elementary School where she had been a fixture for 22 years as a second- and third-grade teacher.

She would wave off the loving admonishments from co-workers who couldn’t understand why she would drag herself into work — sometimes less than a full day after undergoing cancer treatments.

But those who knew her best — who knew the Holly Baldwin who would often use her own money to purchase clothes, shoes and books from the book fair for the students who were less fortunate — understood why.

“That was just her,” Mills said. “She wanted to be here for these kids.”

The Rev. Olin Bowles, a family member of Baldwin’s who will officiate her funeral services, said she continued to work into this school year. He said Baldwin, on the bad days and the good, would cling to her favorite verse in the Bible, Philippians 4:13 — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“Her strength — she knew the Lord was with her,” Bowles said, taking a break from writing her eulogy on Wednesday. “She didn’t let life beat her. She would not give up.”

Ironically, Tuesday night had been designated “Pink Out” night for the LaPoynor varsity girls and boys basketball games. Such nights are held across the country in public schools and colleges to honor those battling cancer and to remember those who had died because of the disease.

Baldwin’s life took center stage at the ceremony, with several people honoring her not only for her courage, but a life well-lived.

Said LaPoynor head girls basketball coach Keith Durrett: “It was a pretty emotional night.”

Text Only
Local News
  • ADR logo.tif Third elementary school to replace Athens Intermediate School

    The Athens Independent School District school board approved campus realignment Monday that will go into effect for the 2015-16 school year.
    While full details of the plan are still being discussed, the district unanimously approved adding a third elementary school, while doing away with the intermediate level.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0128.JPG Laying Splash Pad bricks

    Workmen from Rosenberg’s Outdoor Designs of Athens are shown installing bricks purchased by individuals, businesses and other organizations at the Kiwanis Park Splash Pad.  Shown, left to right, are: Nick Rosenberg, owner of the company; Jonathan Perez and Gutierrez Concepcion.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Burton’s severance approved

    The Athens City Council on Monday narrowly approved a budget amendment from reserves, to fund a severance package for City Administrator Pam Burton who is retiring at the end of 2014.
    Mayor Jerry Don Vaught and council members Monte Montgomery and Tres Winn entered yes votes, while Joe Whatley and Charles Elliott opposed the adjustment.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Sanders readies proposed budget

    Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders has his proposed budget ready for submission, with the numbers reflecting revenues slightly above last year.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Academically-weighted courses discussed at CRISD meeting

    A concern about how elective courses in the Cross Roads Independent School District are academically-weighted was discussed at Monday night's school board meeting to determine a student's class rank.
    The board of trustees decided to let the issue extend to a further meeting to work on rewording the change in the student handbook.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0127.JPG McDonald’s coming to Mabank

    The corner of North First Street and North Third Street in Mabank is about to look a lot different as a construction crew broke ground Monday.
    A formal ceremonial groundbreaking will be held within the next week to welcome McDonald's to the location just off of Highway 175.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Funeral held for 15-year-old drowned Eustace student

    Funeral services were held on Sunday for a 15-year-old Eustace student who drowned Thursday evening after diving into Cedar Creek Lake.
    The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the drowning. According to reports, a medical emergency call came to 9-1-1 shortly after 5 p.m. from Timber Bay in the Payne Springs area.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 PSCA open house.jpg PSCA seeks new student enrollment

    “Striving to make a difference in each child for eternity,” reads the motto of one local private school seeking new enrollment.
    Payne Springs Christian Academy is looking to enroll new students for the 2014-2015 school year.
    “We are in need of some kids this year,” said Amanda Beets, a mother of one of the school's current students.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Lightfoot-Miller Cemetery to dedicate historical marker

    The Texas Historical Commission, Henderson County Historical Commission and descendants of those who are buried in the Lightfoot-Miller Cemetery invite the public to the dedication of a historical marker at the property.
    The observance is set for 10 a.m. on Aug. 2.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 HCHS.jpg ‘Party for the Paws’ event great success

    The Henderson County Humane Society in Athens as well as  Beckham are continuing to celebrate results of the Party For The Paws fundraiser.  Beckham is a dog that was recently adopted from the HCHS.
    HCHS Treasurer Ellen Barton commends those who were involved in the event’s planning and execution. 

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo