James (“Jim”) Ralph Baird, 76, died Sunday, March 28, at his home in Clay Center, Nebraska. He was born July 25, 1944 to Ralph F. and Fern M. (Jenny) Baird at Mary Lanning Hospital in Hastings.
Jim grew up in Blue Hill, graduated from Blue Hill High School and thereafter obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Hastings College. While attending college, Jim continued to live at home and tended to a small dairy herd (“to pay for tuition,” he explained). He often shared this commute to college with another Blue Hill resident, Karen Toepfer, who was to become his wife for over 40 years.
Jim and Karen had two children, Molly and James. Jim and his family lived in Hastings before moving to Clay Center in 1976.
Jim was a tax professional preparing tax returns for many years in Clay Center and Blue Hill (with the forms always in triplicate). He also was a lifelong baseball fan who rooted for the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals. Whether his teams were winning or losing, he never lost his enthusiasm for the game nor relented in his opposition to the Designated Hitter.
Both Jim and Karen were avid birders and enthusiastic supporters of the Spring Wing Ding, Blue Birds Across Nebraska and the Raptor Recovery Center, among other conservation organizations. Jim was a gardener, devoted husband, father and grandfather and a generous and selfless friend to many, which he poorly hid behind a sometimes gruff manner.
Survivors include his son James (Lisa) Baird (Fraser, Colorado), Molly (Ben) Dilsaver (Lincoln, Nebraska); sister Ruth (Jerry) Koepke of (Mesa, Arizona); sisters-in-law Janice Baird (Hastings, Nebraska), Tonna Gilbert (Blue Hill, Nebraska), Jeri Swanstrom (Duluth, Minnesota), Elberta Bruhn (Omaha, Nebraska); three grandchildren Mat Baird, Dannie Dilsaver and Kate Dilsaver; other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife Karen; and his brother Dan.
A private cemetery service will be held on Saturday, April 3rd at the Blue Hill Cemetery with Pastor Leah Krotz officiating. There will be no viewing or visitation as his wishes were to be cremated. Memorials may be directed to either Central Community College Foundation in support of the Karen Baird Memorial Scholarship or Fontanelle Forest in support of the Raptor Program. Private condolences may be sent to the family at www.mertenbutlermortuary.com. Merten-Butler Mortuary, Blue Hill, Nebraska is in charge of arrangements.