NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIH Administrator Baldwin Mourned

Black & white head shot of Calvin “Cal” Benham Baldwin Jr.
Calvin “Cal” Benham Baldwin Jr.

Calvin “Cal” Benham Baldwin Jr., an administrator for 33 years at NIH, died on June 28 at Kensington Park, a senior living community. He was 91. A resident of Garrett Park from 1963 to 2017, he was born in Radford, Va.

Baldwin joined NIH in 1953 and served in a number of administrative positions until his retirement in 1986: executive officer of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, executive officer of the National Cancer Institute, executive officer of the Division of General Medical Sciences (before NIGMS was created) and NIH associate director for administration.

He received numerous honors and awards including the DHEW Superior Service Award and the William A. Jump Meritorious Award for “exemplary achievement in public administration.” He also was NIH’s representative on the Economic Advisory Council on Montgomery County, advising the county executive on various issues including transportation.

“I never thought I would go from a Grade-7 management analyst to be the director of administration at NIH,” said Baldwin in an NCI oral history interview conducted on the last day of 1997. “I was just extremely happy working at NIH and felt very fortunate. I was in the right place at the right time. My kind of caustic comment was that I was at NIH at a time when any fool could get ahead, and some did.”

Baldwin became a resident of Montgomery County in 1933, when his family moved to Chevy Chase from Radford. Baldwin attended Montgomery County public schools, graduating from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1943. He served in the infantry in World War II in Germany and Japan. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1949 with a degree in sociology and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1961, he received a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.

In retirement, Baldwin was active in a variety of civic and community affairs. He served on the town council and as chairman of the planning commission in Bethany Beach, Del., where he was also president of the Bethany Beach Landowners Association. In 2002, Bethany’s mayor recognized his “tireless work and persistence (over 15 years)” that led to the town’s acquisition of a 26-acre parcel, which became the Bethany Beach Nature Center. The nature trail at the center was named “Baldwin Trail” in honor of his efforts. Another multi-year project he helped bring to fruition was the hiker-biker trail from Garrett Park to Beach Dr. in Rock Creek Park. 

A founding member of the NIH Alumni Association and the Children’s Inn at NIH, Baldwin was a board member of both organizations. He was also an avid tennis player until the age of 80, which kept him active both physically and socially. 

Baldwin was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Elizabeth “Betty” Baldwin, on Mar. 16. Survivors include 3 daughters: Susan Baldwin of San Diego, Sally Baldwin of Washington, D.C., and Ann Baldwin Nucci of Rockville and 6 grandchildren. Nucci worked at NIH in the Office of Human Resources for 31 years, retiring in 2015, and her son, James, is a 2017 summer intern with NICHD.   

Donations in Baldwin’s memory may be made to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, P.O. Box 97166, Washington, DC 20090-7166 or to the Democratic National Committee, 430 South Capitol St. SE #3 Washington, DC 20003. 

A celebration of his life will be held at a date to be determined. For details email

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

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