1939 – 2004
William Joseph Baughn was born May 25, 1939 in Savannah, GA and died March 26, 2004 in Jacksonville, FL. He was cremated and his ashes will be interred in a private family cemetery on Daufuskie Island, SC at some future date.
Bill was in the Navy and served as a photographer’s mate; I believe it was during this period of his life when he flew with the Hurricane Hunters one season. He worked for a paper mill, stocked convenience stores along the Florida coast, was a longshoreman in South Florida, sold cars, was with the fire department, was a private detective and photographer — I’ve probably forgotten some of the things he did PJ (pre-Joyce). In the summer of ’64, Bill worked as a bodyguard for a network cameraman covering the Race Riots at St Augustine beach, then “ran” the film to the Jacksonville airport to be flown to New York each afternoon to meet network deadlines. Then he went to New York City to cover their race riots and quickly learned to wear clip-on ties, so as not to provide “choke holds” for the “enemy” if a fight broke out! This was the beginning of his career as a stage hand/theatrical technician. This field suited him well. It allowed him the variety and change he needed and it utilized, encouraged and developed his unique way of thinking “outside the box”, a talent little understood by most of us and usually discouraged in the business world.
On May 1, 1968 Bill met Joyce Cox in a small Oklahoma town. It was love at first sight for both, a love that only grew stronger with time. We married May 25, 1971 in Kingsland, GA. Bill had already been down the rocky road of marriage that didn’t work out, but he had two wonderful sons he was proud of: Marc and Bill Jr.
In our early years, we traveled a lot with Bill’s work. He worked on several movies (including “Conrack”), traveled with network newsreel teams, summer opera in Cincinnati and Saratoga Springs, NY, many television series and too many stage productions, concerts, specials and commercials to count. The fun of travel, challenge of such varied assignments and the general thrill of being young and together was wonderful.
As we, and our families, got older, we began to think about settling down. We moved to Dallas and entered a new phase of development. Bill finally had a place for a shop and bought a lathe he had long wanted (he had 5 lathes when he died!) and became a master wood turner. For several years we did Arts & Crafts shows, selling his work. My Bill, who could be so impatient with so much of life, had all the patience in the world when at the lathe. It was pure therapy for him.
While we were in Dallas, amputee support groups began springing up around the country. We started and ran the North Texas Amputee Support Group. This is when we bought our first computer. Bill put out a newsletter that had a far greater reach and impact than the local group. Bill did almost all the writing for the newsletter and found he enjoyed and had a real talent for the writing and research needed for some of his articles.
In 1991 we decided it was time to return to Jacksonville to help care for his elderly Mother and her sister. We bought a house, Bill returned to stage work, and we settled in. We decided against becoming involved with another local support group (NTASG folded not long after we left Dallas) but were still interested in the issues. It was during this time that the internet came into it’s own as a tool for the general public. In 1995 Bill started the I-CAN mailing list and shortly thereafter the web site. In part, this was prompted by a conversation we had with my parents about their side of my “accident” — young parents (23 and 25) with little education or money and no understanding or support for the future they faced. Mother did eventually correspond with two other mothers with daughters without hands but “snail mail” was slow. A couple of soldiers even came by to talk with them. They did an outstanding job but how much easier it would have been if they could have had a resource like Bill envisioned.
In July ’97 we held our first I-CAN meeting in Birmingham and there has been a meeting each year since. It was our conviction that the meeting of parents and mentors, along with the families, would have more impact than any other single thing. I believe this has proved to be true.
The end of July 2003, Bill was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. He took chemotherapy and radiation and tolerated both extremely well. He was pronounced in total remission the end of December. We knew he didn’t have long but expected a couple of years so we started planning to return to Texas. On March 13, 2004, I again had to take him to the emergency room because he couldn’t breath. Thirteen days later he was gone. His passing was easy, with no pain until the last 36 hours. I guess I couldn’t ask for much more — except another 33 years.
Pictures of Bill are rare as he was always behind the camera. Here are some that have been captured over the years.