Gloria Simmons was a naive 15 year old living in Detroit in the 1960's when she met the handsome and charismatic Lowell Baldwin in Ann Arbor, where he was attending college on scholarship at the University of Michigan. Lowell dropped out of college, became a hippie living in a commune with Gloria, and drove a school bus for a living. His mother Florence expressed disappointment at Lowell's disinterest in his education after falling for "that young Detroit girl". Gloria got pregnant and their son Michael was born. Lowell and Gloria were Viet Nam war protesters as part of a non-violent hippie branch of the activist group "The Weathermen". During one protest rally that consisted of a confetti-bombing of a bank, someone substituted a real bomb, and a janitor was killed. The bomb went off just as Lowell arrived with the intent to stop them, and was seen as a suspect when he tried to help those who were hurt. Rather than raise a young child on the run, Lowell abandoned Gloria and fled to Canada.
Ten years later, Gloria was still living in Detroit working as a waitress at a diner, when she married Tom Fisher, and their son Kevin Fisher was born. But Kevin's father "Terrible Tom" was a drunk who took out his frustration and anger by abusing the kids physically and verbally and often locked Kevin in a closet. Gloria apparently was too afraid of Tom to stop him, so Michael escaped from home as soon as he could as a teenager. Then the beatings fell on Kevin, who Michael described as a great kid, funny and full of potential.
Once he was old enough to leave, Kevin went to live with Michael who was a struggling Law student on partial scholarship. Kevin became an apprentice electrician, but he ripped off Michael and his friends, and started a fire at a neighbor's while replacing some switches, and the house burned down. No charges were ever filed, but Kevin was fired, and Michael sent him packing. Michael became a highly respected Attorney in Genoa City, but ended up in prison. After he did his time, Michael managed to pick up his career and was enjoying his success. Also living in Genoa City years later, Kevin was working as a bookkeeper at Marsino's Gentlemen's Club. Kevin's boss Bobby Marsino was tipped to Kevin's alleged illegal activities including arson, statutory rape, and attempted murder, so he fired Kevin.
It wasn't until Kevin was accused of another crime that he showed up at Michael's office expecting help, but Michael turned his long-lost half-brother away. Kevin had to flee Genoa City to his mother Gloria's who was living in the same seedy apartment in his and Michael's hometown of Detroit. Kevin awaited his mother Gloria's return, opening that same closet door and reliving the terrifying experience of being locked inside as punishment as a child by "Terrible Tom." Gloria was shocked to see him, and hugged and rocked him, begging him to love her now, after she had turned her back on the abuse all those years. Michael showed up just before the Detroit police knocked on the door wanting Kevin. Michael called Detective Weber back in Genoa City, and convinced him to let him bring Kevin back. Gloria and Michael hadn't seen each other in many years either, and Michael was obviously resentful of her. But Gloria talked Michael into letting her return to Genoa City with Kevin. Kevin ended up proven innocent of the crime, but later burned down Gina's Restaurant after trapping Colleen Carlton inside. But he has since turned his life around, becoming the owner/manager of Crimson Lights Coffee House. Michael married Department store heiress, Lauren Fenmore, and Gloria stayed on in Genoa City wreaking havoc on both her son's lives with her multiple marriages to rich men who left her widowed, the return and murder of "Terrible Tom", and the never-ending, sometimes illegal, tricks that she pulled.
The Fishers were celebrating Michael's first Father's Day with son Fenmore, when Michael insisted Gloria tell him more about his own father, Lowell Baldwin. Gloria told her story of how they were young idealistic hippies, omitting the activist group that they belonged to and changing the ending that Gloria discovered she was pregnant with Michael about the time Lowell got drafted and fled to Canada. She told them rather than raise an infant in a commune, she let Lowell go alone and never saw him again. She guiltily admitted that they had never been married like she had led everyone to believe.
Michael’s partner, Detective Paul Williams, located a River Baldwin wanted for murder after setting up a bombing of a bank as a leader with the 1960's activist group “The Weathermen”. He had the same social security number as Lowell, and was also born in New Orleans. Records also showed that a Gloria Simmons paid his bail. Gloria again lied in response to Michael's confrontation that Lowell used her, convinced her he was innocent, and disappeared after she bailed him out, leaving her and baby Michael penniless. Paul also later discovered that a Richard Gerick had switched identities with Lowell in 1993 after Lowell, then a College professor in Southern California was kicked out and disappeared because he slept with student. Michael began having second thoughts about finding his long lost father.
Jana Hawkes and Kevin Fisher decided to marry with a hippie style wedding at an ashram in Malibu. All in hippie attire except for Jana's white lace gown, Amber Moore was her maid of honor and Daniel Romalotti, Kevin's best man, with Michael as groomsman. Michael's wife Lauren, Gloria and her current husband Jeffrey attended, and Colleen Carlton tagged along as Daniel's date. To everyone's shock, the guru officiating turned out to be Michael's long lost father Lowell "River" Baldwin. Gloria and Michael gave him a tongue-lashing over his abandoning them before Michael was born, and Lowell retorted with cosmic gibberish about fate and the universe, and asked them not to turn him in to the Feds. Michael gave him hell with tears of hurt in his eyes, but left saying he would not turn him in.
It wasn't long before River turned up at Michael's door trying to explain and make amends for the past to Michael and Gloria, claiming he was not guilty of the death in the 1960's. Gloria had a very touching reunion with Lowell, and she and Michael both made peace with him. Just as he was about to leave town, Lowell was apprehended by the FBI. Gloria’s current husband Jeffrey later admitted that he turned Lowell in. Not long afterward 15 year old Eden showed up at Michael’s looking for her father River. Lowell explained to Michael that when he was teaching in California he got a grad student pregnant, and was fired from the university as a result. Eden's mother had a drug problem, disappeared after Eden was born, and she died. Lowell raised Eden to be self-sufficient in case he got caught, home-schooling her to be far advanced for her age. He asked Michael to take her in, and Lauren convinced Michael they should give it a try, but Eden was sullen and belligerent. Attorney Dick Dentner, a former activist himself, saw Lowell as a hero and took his case with plans to "stick it to the man". Michael attempted to help, but Lowell was not interested. But when Lowell was about to be extradited back to Michigan, Michael acted as his lawyer and got his trial held in Genoa City, Lowell finally accepted Michael to defend him. Michael spent days pouring over four decades of files from the 1960’s trial of Lowell's cohorts. He found and met with a buddy of Lowell’s, Howie “Kite” Sullivan, who told him that he was with “River” the day of the bombing, and that “River” was not responsible for the janitor who was killed. That it was meant to be only a confetti bomb, but someone substituted a real one, and River was only there to try to stop the protest. Howie claimed he was an FBI informant who, when he refused to testify against Lowell, ended up doing time. Meanwhile Gloria located a note in the files where the prosecution had scrapped Howie’s testimony because he refused to cut a deal, which verified his story. Back at the jail, after a visit from Jeffrey that convinced him that ever going free was hopeless, Lowell took a capsule that would make him sick so he’d get taken to the hospital. He left a note for Michael, and with Eden causing a distraction, Lowell escaped out a second story window hurting his ankle. Eden met Lowell at a warehouse, but he convinced her to stay with Michael to have a decent life. Not long after she left, the police surrounded the warehouse. Michael arrived and talked Lowell into surrendering. While working on Lowell’s case, Michael found a photo of the activist group, and Lowell identified everyone, including Gloria. Michael was particularly interested in finding Lowell's former best friend Marshall. He suspected he was the one who substituted the real bomb, but he turned out to be deceased. Also among the old evidence was a tape of a witness named Tonya condemning Lowell as a violent ringleader, the voice undeniably Gloria’s. When Michael confronted her with it, Gloria broke down and admitted she was coerced into it by the police under threat of getting Michael taken away from her. When Michael told Lowell, he said he had known all along, understood the circumstances and forgave her long ago. Gloria walked in the visiting room, overheard, and they cried and embraced.
Months later in court, thanks to Michael's expertise and Gloria's last minute testimony, River's charges for the bombing of the Michigan bank building and resulting death of the janitor were dropped. Then a California tax bill for the ashram which was in Eden's name arrived, causing Michael to realize the only way River would have had the 4.5 million dollars to buy the ashram was if he had stolen the 4.5 million the bank claimed lost in the bank during the bombing. Confronted by Michael, River admitted he had gone there for the money, not to stop the bombing as he claimed, and that he had conned everyone since. River left town, stopping only for Eden's teddy bear which he had stuffed with the $60,000 Kay had left at Crimson lights that Jana had given him. But Eden caught and confronted him. River told her she was better off with Michael and Lauren and left her behind. Eden was crushed to realize he was a conman all along, but glad that she and Noah had discovered and hid the money, so he had only a bear full of paper. Lowell was last seen posing as a Priest collecting donations for an orphanage.