By Linda Andersen
“Much of what has helped me succeed has come from my roots in Kittson County,” stated Dr. Cynthia Baldwin in a recent email interview. Dr. Baldwin is yet another accomplished individual who grew up in Northern Kittson County – Humboldt to be exact.
Following high school, Baldwin earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She later earned a doctorate in marriage and family counseling and taught four years at the University of Wyoming and 12 years at the University of Nevada. She has since worked in private practice in Reno, Nev. Dr. Michael Rustad, who recommended she be interviewed, described her as a “prominent” psychotherapist.
Baldwin wrote of her family in Humboldt. “I was one of the middle children in the Baldwin Family of nine. I always thought it was the best position to be in, mostly because I could learn from the mistakes of my older siblings and enjoy the fun of helping raise the youngest kids. We were a community unto ourselves, and we had a culture of fun, creativity, and hard work. The household was well organized and ruled with a clear set of guidelines – a few that stand out in my memory: be kind to one another, finish your work first, then do your homework!”
“I was blessed with strong men in my family tree, but more important to me as a woman, I was blessed with good women role models. My grandmother, Rose Lehn Baldwin, was a teacher at a business college at the turn-of-the-century and believed in the importance of education for men and women. My grandma, Ethel Lundberg Larson, epitomized the social activism that helped small communities stick together, and my god mother, Joyce Larson Baldwin, taught me about kindness, cooperation, community and keeping a happy sense of perspective.”
Baldwin also shared memories of people from her school days in Humboldt. “I loved learning. Our school in Humboldt must have seemed very limited to people with more resources. Yet, we had a wonderful library, and librarians (Mrs. Virginia Ott and Mrs. Helen Tri) who opened up the world of books to me. Mrs. Roberts taught us how to type, outline, write drafts and end up with a finished writing product that we could be proud of. I was one of several students from Humboldt who won writing contests during high school, partly because of Mrs. Roberts and her emphasis on excellent writing standards. In high school, several of us students were interested in forming a debate club. It galvanized my love of research and my zest for a good argument! (Mike Rustad and I were debate partners for a time and made an intense team!) We were blessed with several excellent music teachers, and Mr. Robert Norton helped me hone my love for music and I gained interesting memories and happy experiences at many local contests.”
Baldwin’s life has held some adventure. She lived in New Orleans for four years where she tried a number of jobs, including music teacher, rock singer, and hotel sales. She went on to live in Vienna, Austria where she studied music and worked at the American International School. Of the Vienna days, she writes, “It was a happy, carefree time and slaked my interest in performing. I realized that the connection with people was my main reason for music, and I decided I’d rather try a different more direct way to make that happen.”
Her “direct way to make that happen” was to earn a doctorate in marriage and family counseling. What advice can the counselor offer on the subject of keeping marriages together? In response to the question, Baldwin offered the following, “I have been happily married for the last 21 years to Dr. Don Huggins, who is also a therapist in private practice with me and has also served on our state marriage and family therapy board for nine years. The elements that keep our marriage strong are mutual respect, a love of problem solving and a good sense of humor.”
Dr. Baldwin recommended two books, “The Five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families,” by Stephen R. Covey.
Baldwin has a son, Dr. Jonathan Baldwin Dowdall, who “works in computer engineering for Google helping design autonomous vehicles.”
Baldwin concluded with these words, “My brothers and sisters have lived rich and interesting lives as well and while I have enjoyed all my adventures, I don’t think I am unique. I think I got a good grounding in the rudiments of hard work and persistence. I was raised in a family and community that valued education, and I knew that there was a place for me anywhere I wanted to go if I worked hard enough to get there.”
By Linda Andersen