Dr. Baird - Some Little Giant
Sunday, March 30, 2014 8:00 PM
Dr. M. Keith Baird passed away on Saturday. The list of Dr. Baird's involvements and accomplishments is impressive and lengthy. But to me, he was a neighbor - and the best kind of neighbor you could ask for.
For my final two years at Wabash College I lived at 13 Harry Freedman Place. Dr. Baird lived right next door. He always had a smile, a laugh and a story to tell.
The first time I met Dr. Baird in person was actually in the classroom in 2009. Yes, this man, who had earned a degree in 1956, frequently sat in on classes 50 years later just to keep learning. He would show up to several classes I was in, and we would occasionally chat. And then one day we realized we were heading to pretty much the same place on campus. And realized we were neighbors.
There were times when the nine of us in the house next to Dr. Baird's house probably got too loud or had a little too much fun, but he insisted that he and his wife did not mind. He would joke that he just took his hearing aids out at night and never heard us. Whether he really did, or whether he just tolerated young men having too much fun, I'll never know. The first Christmas we were at the house we took Dr. Baird a cookie cake as a little token of our appreciation of him being a great neighbor. In turn he welcomed us into his house and shared his life passions with us. From NASA to medical work to model airplanes, Dr. Baird had done more than any of us could imagine and he was eager to share it with our young souls.
Dr. Baird would often "stall" one of his several Porsches in his driveway and call us over to help him push it into the garage. A lot of times this would happen right after he had some improvement made it or purchased a new one. For him, I think it was an opportunity to share something most of us had never seen or touched (and probably wouldn't in the future). For us it was an opportunity to reciprocate his neighborliness (and be able to say we got to touch a Porsche).
One particular Saturday late in the 2009-2010 school year will be a day I never forget. The members of our house and several guests were outside having a cookout and a good time. Dr. Baird backed out of his drive in his bright red (and brand new) Porsche and slowly rolled to the end of our drive. I noticed he was going to stop and walked over to see how he was doing and see if he needed anything. I got to the driver said door and his request was the easiest it had ever been, "Get in, I need to take her for a drive."
He didn't have to tell me twice. Off we were. I saw parts of Montgomery County that I had never seen before in a car unlike I had ever dreamed of riding in. Dr. Baird accelerated through turns and would let out his famous laugh that I will never forget. It didn't matter that he had done this a thousand times or in who-knows-how-many different cars. He was having the time of his life. And so was I.
I'll miss Dr. Baird like so many others. He taught us all things we couldn't learn in the classroom. He was generous and always friendly. He was optimistic no matter the situation. He was proud of his accomplishments, but was far more eager to share his experiences than boast about his accolades. He showed us the way to achieve success, but more importantly how to appreciate success with humility. He was a selfless man that gave us part of himself, even though he didn't have to.
He was Some Little Giant.