- Associated Press - Saturday, August 23, 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A multi-colored heart radiates from a honey brown bear’s white T-shirt. At the center, two initials: MB.

To a child in distress, the purple letters mean “My Bear.” To Bev Baldwin, they mean so much more.

The soft, smiling teddy bears reflect the kindness found in her husband of 61 years, the late Marlin Baldwin.

“What a wonderful sweetheart he was,” she told the Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/1oSbFzB ).

Marlin lost his battle to pancreatic cancer in December.



Instead of flowers at the funeral, the family requested memorial funds to benefit a nonprofit organization the couple supported for 20 years. More than 200 outfitted teddy bears were donated to the Council on Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence, giving a source of comfort to children caught in chaos.

“If you can give them a little teddy bear to snuggle, that’s all the difference in the world,” Baldwin said.

CSADV responds to the needs of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors spanning 19 counties in Iowa. The agency provides shelter and other services to about 300 children in a given year. All services are free of charge.

The Baldwin bears helped restock the shelter’s supply of stuffed animals.

“Marlin and his wife Bev were longtime supporters of CSADV and this gift continues the tradition of ensuring young children have something comforting in a time of uncertainty,” said Executive Director Margaret Sanders.

When families seek help from CSADV, they’re often trying to escape a traumatic situation.

A majority of kids who come to the shelter are under the age of 5.

“It’s a really scary time for them,” said Deb Hogan, program supervisor for CSADV. “If they’re coming here, it’s because they’re not safe.”

To restore a sense of security, children get to choose a stuffed animal or little quilt to keep. Hogan has heard from adults who still have their bear or blanket from the time they arrived at CSADV as a child.

Marlin and Bev Baldwin admired the organization’s efforts to empower those who had been battered and broken.

“I just think it’s a good, worthwhile organization,” said Bev Baldwin. “He felt just like I did. That there are too many abused women and children. We wanted to help however we could.”

Before he passed away at 81, the Baldwins talked about contributing to CSADV one last time. Thus the Baldwin bears were born.

By her account, they had an enviable marriage - the kind outsiders would look at and say, “If I could only have a marriage like that.”

His secretaries from decades ago remembered him as a kindly man, too. Following the funeral, Baldwin received a letter from one of them. In it, she detailed what a joy it was to work for him.

“I was so shocked to get this beautiful card and letter,” Baldwin said. “I got on the Internet and found her, and she’s in South Sioux. She was so thrilled.”

They’ve gone out to lunch a couple of times since.

“She knew what a wonderful guy he was and how much he thought of me,” Baldwin said. “He was so good to me.”

Not every relationship is like theirs. Not every man like Marlin.

___

Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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