For as long as Karen Baldwin can remember, the real estate business has played a supporting role in her life.

In fact, she credits high interest rates in the real estate market of 1982 – the year she graduated from high school – for changing her life forever.

That’s because her parents owned a real estate company in her Canadian hometown of London, Ontario. Her parents were struggling and they told Baldwin that if she wanted to go to college, she’d have to pay her own way.

Before Baldwin could get depressed about how much money she had to make, she heard an ad on the radio for a local beauty pageant. The prize? The exact amount of money Baldwin needed.

At first, Baldwin was skeptical.

“I thought, ‘No, I can’t do this. These other girls have trained their whole lives for this,’” she said.

But her girlfriends wouldn’t let her pass up the opportunity, and Baldwin went on to be crowned Miss London, then Miss Canada and, finally, Miss Universe in 1982.

“With the money I won, I was able to take over the mortgage for my parents’ company and the doors were able to stay open,” she said.

Baldwin, 48, now works as an estate and land agent with Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty in Calabasas and as a liaison for New York-based Concierge Auctions. One of her current listings is an 11-acre horse ranch located just minutes from the Las- Vegas Strip, complete with four houses, three barns and pastures.

Baldwin said the skills she gained traveling the world as Miss Universe still come in useful today.

“It gave me a great instinctual basis for business communications and I rely on those insights every single day,” she said.

On the Road Again

Sun Valley print shop owner Duane Harte has an unusual cell phone voicemail greeting: “If you’re hearing this message, it means I’m out on my Harley riding off into the sunset.”

Asked to explain, Harte replied: “Most people I know where I live in Santa Clarita know I’m often out on my Harley, so it seemed like the thing to do to put it on my greeting.”

Harte, who owns Academy Mail, said that when he’s riding, he can’t hear the cell phone ring, let alone answer it.

For Harte, 65, riding motorcycles has been a passion since he was a teenager.

“As soon as I was able to buy my own motorcycle, I did,” he said.

He met his wife-to-be, Pauline, on his motorbike and it didn’t take long before she was joining him on rides.

But when the couple’s eldest daughter was born, Harte gave up motorcycle riding as too dangerous. For the next 25 years, the couple only rented bikes on occasional trips to the Colorado River Valley.

Seven years ago, it was their daughter who convinced them to take up riding again.

“She was 26 at the time and came in on her own Harley with some friends,” he said. “My wife and I went riding with them on a spare Harley that they had. When we got home, my wife looked at me and said, ‘Go ahead and buy that bike.’”

Staff reporters Bethany Firnhaber and Howard Fine contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at

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