John Paul Baird, age 95, passed away November 21, 2021, at the Health Center at Givens Estates Retirement Community in Asheville, NC, where he and his wife, Marguerite, lived since 2007. Born in Frankfort, SD, in July 1926, he was the eldest of 7 -- 2 brothers and 4 sisters. All have predeceased him except his youngest sister, Paula Lorenz (David), of State College, PA.
After completing his public-school education in Frankfort, population 500, he entered the University of Denver where he graduated in 1949 with a B.A. in Education and Spanish. In 1950, during the Korean War, he was recruited by the South Dakota Army Reserves and served at Fort Richardson, Alaska.
After being demobilized, he moved to California to pursue a career in social work. It was there he met his second wife, Marguerite Ford. They were married in 1972 in Winchendon, Mass, in the 150-year-old home of her maternal grandmother, then owned by her parents, Prentice and Marguerite Ford.
After the wedding, they returned to California where they spent the rest of their working lives- he as a Social Worker and she as a Psychologist. John spent the major part of his social work career in the Los Angeles Department of Social Welfare working primarily with Spanish speaking clients. During this time, he earned a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and a California License in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling and worked part time in several private clinics.
Throughout his life, John was an avid participant in running and basketball and pursued them both wherever he lived and had opportunity. Over the years he ran in many 5K and 10K races and won numerous medals and trophies for winning first in his age group. As a senior, he also participated in state and national basketball games whenever possible. In 2007, at age 81, he joined an Arizona 80+ team to participate in the National Senior Games in Louisville, KY where they won a Silver medal for 2nd place. On retiring to Givens Estates, he took up billiards and played weekly with fellow residents, improving his skill so that in 2017 at age 90, he won the gold medal in billiards at the Asheville Senior Games.
He will be long remembered for his cheerfulness, courage, and persistence in pursuing his goals despite setbacks in health and circumstances, such as the pandemic. He had a strong urge to live and fought the good fight to the end.
No formal service is planned. His ashes will be buried with a military marker in the Baird family plot at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Frankfort, SD.
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