William Thomas Baird was the first child of Mattie Morris Baird and Alva C. Baird of Missoula. He was born in 1925 in St. Patrick’s Hospital.
Alva served in World War I, and then earned his law degree at the University in Missoula. When the IRS offered the young Montana attorney a position in Washington, the family headed East. Shortly after, Alva was transferred to Los Angeles where the family spent the rest of their lives. There a second boy, Thomas (now deceased) and a girl, Nan, were born.
On graduating from Los Angeles High School in 1943, World War II was raging. Will enlisted in the Army Air Corps, serving as a radio man. Following his discharge, he enrolled at UCLA, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science degree. He joined Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate, and enjoyed many happy, successful years there before leaving to start his own business.
Will married Lourdes Gillespie in 1956. They had three children, Tom, Maria and John. When the children were in their early teens their parents divorced.
In 1976 Will and Margaret Fay both happened to attend a benefit event at his daughter’s high school, which was also the school where Margaret had taught for many years. Two years later they married. For Will, Los Angeles had been home for 66 years, yet fond memories of Montana and its relative calm, beauty, and family ties called him back. So, in 1991 the Bairds built their semi-retirement home in the beautiful Flathead. Will closed his L.A. office, and worked thereafter from his new home, with lots of support from Dick Buchanan, the computer expert at Byte Savvy!
Life in Montana opened a new chapter in their lives: Will found great friends in the Lakeside Coffee Group; they enjoyed skiing the Big Mountain and Blacktail; and went on a pack trip and fishing in the Bob Marshall. Having been a lifelong Rotarian in Los Angeles, Will was delighted to discover the Kalispell Noon Rotary, and attended until the week before his death. Over the years, he served on the Flathead Lakers and the Lakeside County Water and Sewer board. He loved and supported the Glacier Symphony, Flathead Valley Community College, the hospital, and numerous other organizations in the valley.
When Will, at 91, decided he wanted to join the Catholic Church, Father Craig Hanley, pastor at St. John Paul II, and a man Will deeply admired, welcomed him and baptized him. Often, Will would say, “That was one of the best things I ever did!”
Two years ago, a long fight with pneumonia took a serious toll on his health. This Feb. 22 pneumonia struck again. He was hospitalized at The HealthCenter for three days before he succumbed, peacefully, with Margaret and his daughter Maria at his side on Feb. 24, 2020. Will leaves three beloved children, Tom (Deirdre) of Sherman Oaks, California, Maria (George) of Berkeley, California, and John of Petersburg, Alaska; also, his cherished grandchildren, Caitlin and Dylan Baird, and Teresa and Joseph Cotsirilo; and his dear sister, Nan Baird in Kalispell, and his much loved wife, Margaret.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. John Paul II Church, Bigfork on Saturday, March 28, at 11 a.m., followed by a celebration of Will’s life at the Beargrass Bistro in Lakeside.
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