Harry Baird truly enjoyed every sandwich while he was on this earth. He loved Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. He savored his nightly vodka martini. He cherished his fishing trips on the Cowlitz River in southwest Washington. More than anything, though, he loved his family and friends dearly. And he will be missed more than words can adequately describe after passing late on the night of Jan. 18 at his home in University Place, Wash., following a battle with lung cancer. He was 86 years young.
Harry was born on Feb. 16, 1937 in Everett, Wash., at the tail-end of the Great Depression, to Abram and Hazel Baird. Harry grew up in and around the Everett area as the second youngest in a family that numbered nine children in all.
Harry graduated from Everett High School in 1955, and the next year married his high school sweetheart, Joan Gerdon. Together they raised four children — Joe, Sue, Katie and Dan — before divorcing in 1967. He remarried a year later, wedding Yvonne Sypnicki and becoming a stepfather to her three children — Greg, Pam and Cydney — creating a real-life Brady Bunch of seven kids during that TV show’s popular run in the late ‘60s and early 70s.
Harry had a successful business career, first as a young middle manager at the Boeing Company in Seattle, then moving on to Pacific Bell, relocating his family to Sacramento and later the Bay Area in the process. After returning to the Northwest and working for a short period as a self-employed consultant, Harry joined Sperry Univac in the late 1970s and went on to become an account executive, selling large Sperry (and later Unisys) computer systems, primarily to the state of Washington.
Always seeking adventure, Harry, Yvonne and family decamped to Vashon Island, between Seattle and Tacoma, around 1968 to escape the city and live on the water. A decade later, pursuing more waterfront, they moved south to Lacey, and embarked on renovating a large, unique fixer-upper on the shores of Long Lake in 1982. It was here, after retiring in 2000, that Harry became the chief lieutenant in Yvonne’s rapidly expanding antique doll business. Together, they traversed the U.S., and Europe on occasion, attending antique doll shows and UFDC Conventions. They were seldom apart and remained madly in love until Harry’s final breath.
His other love? A decades-long poker game with a group of buddies who gathered monthly in downtown Olympia and, twice a year, at the historic K&K Lodge in Goose Prairie, Wash. High stakes the 'Poker Schmoker' was not, but Harry's bond with those guys — they know who they are — was unbreakable.
It was also at Long Lake that Harry hatched his annual 4th of July party, a blowout celebration of beer, brats and fireworks that grew in size and stature over the decades. The only requirement for guests was that they participate in a patriotic march around the neighborhood, with Harry leading the way holding a large American flag while being trailed by a boombox that cranked out John Phillip Sousa tunes. A conga line of dozens followed him around from door to door to greet his always amused neighbors. And if he was feeling especially frisky, he’d cap the march by jumping off the end of the dock and into the lake, sometimes on a speeding scooter. This was Harry in his purest form — boyishly fun, bursting with life and full of love for all.
Harry is survived by his wife, Yvonne Baird, University Place, Wash.; children Joseph Baird (Jane Peterson), Salt Lake City, Utah; Susan Baird, Murray, Utah; Kathleen Nau (Brian Nau), Minneapolis, Minn.; Daniel Baird, Minneapolis, Minn.; Gregory Sypnicki (Gloria Sypnicki), Shelton, Wash.; Pamela Smith, Vashon, Wash.; Cydney Carrithers (Jay Carrithers), Sacramento, Calif.; plus 13 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren, and a younger brother, Ronald Baird. Preceded in death by his siblings George, Laura, Dorothy, Norma, Arthur, Ramona and Lawrence, and two grandchildren.
No immediate funeral service is planned, but his family and friends will put together a celebration of Harry’s life this summer. Stay tuned for an announcement.