Bud Baird

May 14, 1919 - Aug. 6, 2014

Stanley Howard “Bud” Baird was born May 14, 1919, to Albert Virgil Baird and Helen Moorman Baird in Bandon. He was a breech birth and suffered from “Wry Neck” (Torticollis) until it was corrected at the Shriner’s Hospital in Portland when he was 13.

Dubbed “Bud” by his older brother Raymond when he was a baby, he was known as Bud for the rest of his life.

Bud came from musical and performing families. His father, who made his first fiddle from a cigar box, played fiddle for dances from an early age. His mother was a dancer and singer from a performing family in San Francisco.

At 11, Bud listened to bands at the Silver Spray Gardens in Bandon, where he and his friends hid outside behind the stage to listen to the music. Then he walked home and sat at the piano until sunrise, learning to play, by ear, the songs he had just heard. When he got a song set in his head he would shift up a half tone and do it all over again. He could play anything in any key. His sister Helen gave him valuable advice along the way. His first professional job at 14, was the grand opening of Leutweiler’s Garage in Langlois, where dancers wore holes in their shoes on the cement floor.

He was a caddy at the Bandon golf course where he developed a lifelong passion for the game. He and his brother Ray played baseball and basketball in school, and they played for the town baseball team. He was a switch hitter in baseball and brought that talent to golf whenever a set of left-handed clubs came to hand.

He enlisted in the Oregon National Guard in 1939. Bud played snare drum, trumpet, trombone and piano in the 249th Coast Artillery Band through the end of World War II. From this association a tradition grew, with band members gathering in mid-August from 1946 to 2011 to renew old friendships and watch each others families grow.

After the war, he played trombone with a dance band in college at the University of Oregon. Back in Coos Bay, he played piano, trumpet and trombone with many local musicians. He joined Frosty’s Frantic Five with Frosty West, Chet Fors, Phil Laird and Buck Rogers. He played at Jack Ripper’s nightclubs where he and Frosty developed a record pantomime act know as the Disc-O-Maniacs. He played for senior proms and senior centers, weddings and birthdays – any place, any time.

He married Claire Webster in 1948. They had a son, Kerry, and a daughter, Leslie.

In his day job as a builder he built five houses, including the castle on Lombard Street in North Bend. He re-roofed, remodeled or repaired countless others. Several of his older friends called him to “get the house in shape for mama” when they knew they did not have long to live. That trust was very precious to him.

He joined the Gold Coast Barbershop Chorus in 1966. His singing voice improved and he developed a whole new set of friends. One of them, Jerry Harrison, wrote a song about him which has been performed many times at Barbershop shows and competitions. Keep your ears open for “Bud The Old Piano Man.”

In 1979 Bill Borcher asked him to join the Oregon Jazz Band. He subsequently enjoyed 27 years with the group. They appeared throughout the West, Europe and the Caribbean. They played the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee every year. Again – more friendships.

Later, he played piano for seven years at The Mill Casino. His latest gigs were at assisted living facilities: Ocean Ridge, Ocean Crest, Inland Point, Evergreen Court, LifeCare and Bandon’s Heritage House. He was developing Sing-Alongs at several of these locations – a whole new way of using and enjoying his music.

He is survived by his wife, Claire; son, Kerry Baird; daughter, Leslie Baird; granddaughter, Heather Baird; sister-in-law, Betty Baird; nieces, Suzanne Webber and Sally Johnston; brother-in-law, Jerry Webster; brother-in-law Wallace Webster and his wife Jeaneene and children Wallace Webster III; Anita Troxell; Cynthia Verdugo and Stewart Webster.

Bud died Aug. 6, 2014.  A memorial service will be held at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Coos Bay, on Saturday. Aug. 23, 2014, at 2 p.m.

He wanted his obituary to say, “Do good where you can, love your family, and enjoy life.” Clearly, we thought we should say a bit more.

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