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911 shift commander Ken Baldinger exuded calm compassion

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By Jerry Vondas
Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011

As a shift commander for Allegheny County Emergency Services, Ken Baldinger understood the dedication, compassion and knowledge needed in answering a 911 call.

"There were holidays, including Christmas, where Dad would be working his shift," said his daughter, Lisa LaMolinare of Upper St. Clair. "And there would be times when he'd work over when needed."

Kenneth G. Baldinger of Overbrook, who had worked in emergency services since 1985, died of cancer on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, in his home. He was 62.

Once, when Mr. Baldinger was a shift commander with the City of Pittsburgh Emergency 911 Services before the city and county 911 services merged in 2005, he and a fellow supervisor remained on duty for 17 hours following a train derailment in Bloomfield, his daughter said.

"But that was typical of my father," she added. "He was a man of compassion, who could remain calm, even among the most stressful situations.

As an Allegheny County Emergency Services shift commander, "Ken was responsible for overseeing all police, fire and emergency operations on his shift," said Mr. Baldinger's supervisor, Cmdr. Henry Caparelli of Brookline. "And there were times when it got hectic at the center during an emergency, but Ken was able to exude confidence and calmness for all the people he oversaw and dealt with."

He added, "We here at the command center not only lost a valued colleague, but a close personal friend."

Mr. Baldinger's daughter also recalled her dad as the patriarch of his family and his siblings. "And being that Dad was the oldest brother, he was often called upon to handle any situation."

His brother-in-law, Bernard Roskov of Franklin Park, considered him as his best friend and a man's man.

"Ken was a man who cared for others," Roskov said. "He was willing to help you and could be counted on for whatever was needed.

"Ken was also charismatic, and that's why there was a tendency for people to come to him in any situation," Roskov added.

Born and raised in Baldwin Borough, Mr. Baldinger was one of five children in the family of Kenneth A. and Norene Franceschina Baldinger.

Following graduation from Baldwin High School in 1967, Mr. Baldinger began his career as a dispatcher, first for Hawkins Transportation and then for the P&LE Railroad prior to joining the city in 1985.

In 1971, Kenneth Baldinger married Diane Ekiert, a medical assistant from Whitehall, who was his high school sweetheart.

In addition to his daughter, Lisa, Mr. Baldinger is survived by a granddaughter, Sienna, and his siblings, Bruce Baldinger of Baldwin Borough, Cindy Nolfi of Hopewell and Jeffrey Baldinger of Whitehall.

Mr. Baldinger was preceded in death by a son, Mark Baldinger, and a brother, Gerald R. Baldinger.

Friends will be received from noon to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today in the Cieslak & Tatko Funeral Home, 2935 Brownsville Road, Brentwood.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Wendelin Church, Carrick.

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