William Edward “Bill” Laird, 66, of Baker City, died April 16, 2005, at his home after a long bout with brain cancer.
A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Bill was born on Nov. 15, 1938, at Ketchikan, Alaska, to Ruth and Edward Laird, who was an engineer with the Lighthouse Service, now the Coast Guard. Bill’s mother died when he was a baby and he was mostly raised by his stepmother, Anna Laura Laird. The family moved to California when Bill was 5, followed by several other moves around the country.
Bill attended high school at the Army Navy Academy in Carlsbad, Calif., graduated in 1957 and served in the army in Germany from 1958-60. He lived in San Francisco in the 1960s where he attended classes at San Francisco State University, worked as a photographer, was involved in a co-operative preschool and spent four months as a kitchen worker on a Norwegian freighter, which eventually broke down in Singapore.
He graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo with a degree in soil science in 1973, followed by a year of graduate school at Washington State University in Pullman. He went to work for the Soil Conservation Service in Baker City in the summer of 1974.
Bill married Barbara Bailey in San Francisco in 1961 and they had two sons.
In 1978 he married Mary Sue Rightmire of Baker City. Two weeks after their daughter was born in 1979, the three of them were on their way to Micronesia, where Bill was in charge of a soil survey of the islands. He spent two years surveying Ponape, Kosrae and Truk and six months in Honolulu writing the report before returning to Baker City in 1981. He later worked on soil surveys in Wallowa County and the big island of Hawaii before returning to Baker City after retiring in 1994.
Bill enjoyed gardening wherever he lived as well as carpentry and wood projects after his retirement. He loved traveling by train, ship and car and he and Mary Sue made a trip around the world in 1998 without taking a plane. He was also an AARP tax volunteer for several years and a math tutor with the Literacy Program at the Baker County Library. Bill was a caring person who found his spiritual way in the past year in the tenets of Buddhism, which teaches tolerance, love and compassion.
Survivors includes his wife, Mary Sue Rightmire of Baker City; his sons, Edward Laird and his wife, Pok Cha, of Eugene, and Abraham Laird and his wife, Annette, of Imperial Beach, Calif., and their children, Amber, Amy and Adam; his daughter, Amelia Laird of Portland; his stepmother, Anna Laura Laird; his sisters, Peggy Dennis and her husband, Dean, and Ruth Delaney and her husband, Bill, all of Richmond, Va., and Laura Ann Brutzman and her husband, Bard, of Charlotte, N.C.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Those who wish to honor Bill may do so by showing loving kindness to those with whom they disagree. Memorial contributions may be given to the Literacy Program at the Baker County Library or to Pathway Hospice, 2192 Court Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, April 25, 2005
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor