This is certainly not Bill and Judi Baldwin’s first stroll through the Amery Fall Festival parade. The Baldwins have been named Grand Marshals of the 2019 event. During the Grand Parade Saturday, September 14, you will see the couple being driven down Keller Avenue, which will be a little different for them. For 35 years they walked alongside the Amery High School Marching Warriors as the band entertained the crowd.
The Baldwins were extremely involved with the Fall Festival for many years and were quite surprised when the announcement was made that they had been
voted Grand Marshals for the upcoming year.
Bill was raised in Germantown, Wisconsin. Judi spent her childhood 45 miles away in Burlington. Their paths crossed on the other side of the state while attending the University of Wisconsin in Lacrosse.
Bill spent his first two years teaching in Leroy, Minnesota. Bill said, “It was a good place for me to start.” The couple was itching to get back to Wisconsin and a chain of events led them to Amery in 1975. “In 1975 Milt Simon was retiring from the music department and Terry Oxley was also leaving. I was reaching out to see what job opportunities were available in the area. I had an Uncle Dale, who was the band director at Unity. The music association of this area was very strong and they met once a month. Milt announce that he and Terry were leaving so my uncle found out about it. My uncle took his entries to the state music contest in Eau Claire the first week of May. He saw my Aunt walking down the street while he was driving in Eau Claire and he offered to give her a ride home. During the drive, he told her I might be interested in this job opening. That Aunt told another Aunt, who told my mother. I called my mother on Mother’s Day and she told me I should look into the job opening,” said Bill. Within a week he had an interview with Amery Superintendent Dr. Bob Froehlich and a day later he was offered the job to see over the fifth grade band and the high school band. “You break any one of those things in the chain and it would not have happened,” Bill said.
The Baldwins spent their first wedding anniversary driving in the pouring rain, moving to Amery. Judi said, “We really love Amery. I remember driving into town for his interview in 1975 and it thinking what a nice main street it had and how clean everything looked. I thought, ‘We could live here’ and we have been here ever since.” The couple made a home and raised two children, Jeff and Jennifer. Judi worked for Polk County as a Child Protection Social Worker for 31 years.
Baldwin led the high school band on their first band trip to Washington D.C. in 1981, where Amery took first place at the Cherry Blossom Festival. “That was very cool,” said Judi. Bill and his young musicians worked hard throughout the years to continue the band trips. “All nine trips were memorable,” said Bill. When asked what they miss most about their years working with the band, the couple both replied, “The kids.” Bill shared he really enjoys hearing from his past students.
In retirement, the Baldwins enjoy their time with their two grandchildren and volunteering at Lien Elementary School. Bill plays his horn in three bands throughout the year. He especially enjoys playing with “Tuba Christmas” each December. Bill also referees high school soccer. Judi is Chairman of the Board at the Amery Housing Authority and she volunteers with Interfaith Caregivers.
They have enjoyed traveling to various places including, Ireland, Alaska, Belgium, Holland, and Hawaii. They have a Southern Caribbean cruise planned with family next winter.
Judi said they love living in Amery because it is a great place filled with great people. Bill and Judi were asked if they intend to leave Amery anytime soon. Judi said, “Not ever.” Bill replied, “Why would we?”