Clifford Baldowski, known by his pen name “Baldy,” was an editorial cartoonist for the Augusta Chronicle, the Miami Herald, and the Atlanta Constitution. He became one of the leading voices of moderation in Georgia during the fight over school desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1959 Time magazine called Baldowski a man who “has sought to depict the plight of the reasonable southerner who, like himself, stands aghast between the extremists.” His theme during this time was the Old South in agonizing self-appraisal.
While many of the extremists and traditionalists of that time believed Baldowski to be a foreigner, he was in fact one of them. Baldowski was born on May 27, 1917, in Augusta. He attended Richmond Academy, the Georgia Military Academy, and the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, and he received further education at the Arts Student League of New York. Having earned five battle stars and the Bronze Star during World War II (1941-45), Baldowski served in the United States Army Air Corps as a navigator-observer and intelligence officer. He eventually retired as a colonel in the Air Force Reserve. He married Sylvia Christiansen, and they had three sons and a daughter.
A second-generation newspaperman, Baldy began his career as a journalist at the Augusta Chronicle in 1946. Four years later he joined the editorial staff of the Atlanta Constitution, where he worked until his retirement in 1982. During his tenure with the Constitution he drew more than 15,000 cartoons, on a seven-day-a-week schedule for more than thirty years. Baldy’s cartoons appeared in Time, U.S. News and World Report, and Newsweek magazines. His work was also featured in leading daily newspapers across the United States and Canada and in English newspapers in Rome, Italy, and Paris, France.
Baldy was a Pulitzer Prize nominee for his cartoon on U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in 1964. He received the Sigma Delta Chi National Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism for a cartoon reflecting the threat of southern school closings in 1959. Baldowski was also awarded four individual Freedom Foundation’s George Washington Medals for cartoons heralding America’s constitutional freedoms and patriotism.
Baldy’s cartoons related to local and state politics as well as to national and international issues. Moreover, his pointed humor helped see Georgians through some difficult times. He gained a reputation for tackling such topics as social unrest, nuclear anxiety, antiwar sentiment, and epochal changes in his native South.
This moderate Georgian used his talents to challenge the establishment in his home state and the South and to address a broad range of social and political issues during his time. With his illustrations Baldy was influential in shaping public opinion on major issues, such as civil rights, by showing what people at that time were doing, suffering, and hoping. Baldowski donated his editorial cartoon collection to the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the University of Georgia Libraries. Baldowski died on September 27, 1999.