Janet Marie Baird, whose life inspired her family and her many friends on six continents, died on August 23 at her home in Cedaredge, CO. She was 75 and still making plans for travel and learning to play the fiddle when she passed away peacefully in her favorite chair with a book and a cup of tea at her side. The cause of death was heart failure.
Ms. Baird was born on Nov. 14, 1943, in Fort Collins, Colorado. She was the daughter of Hugh Bennett Lake and Minnie Lee Lake (Hauser), he was a longtime employee of the U.S. Postal Service and she was a homemaker on their small family farm of 10 acres. Ms. Baird grew up with her siblings Carolyn and John on this farm where she learned to work with animals and the land. Her lifelong love for gardening and everything green and natural derives from these years of childhood. It was there, too, that she learned her gentle Christian faith and imbibed the love of her parents and family.
After graduating from High School in 1962, Ms. Baird went on to attend nursing school at St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver. Her nursing career led her to Salt Lake City where she met and married Dennis Walter Frank, a pharmacist, with whom she had two children, Zephyr Lake Frank and Regna Danu (Frank) Jones. The marriage ended in divorce in 1974.
Ms. Baird was remarried, to Stephen Baird, a woodworker, builder and artist in 1978, becoming mother to Zachary Baird and Rachel Baird. Together with Mr. Baird, with whom she shared 41 years of happy marriage, she moved to Cedaredge in 1981, and built a home on Ward Creek. She continued her nursing career at the Delta County Department of Public Health, where she dedicated herself to the care of young pregnant mothers and, after giving birth, to the wellness and development of their children until her retirement.
Her last four decades were filled with love, travel and personal growth. Ms. Baird loved to learn and to make things; she loved more than anything to connect to other people. Her faith and her passion for family and friends resulted in a life of travel and tireless correspondence. Together with her husband, she helped build a hospital in Uganda, raised funds for an elderly woman’s hip replacement in Guatemala, and built a library and sewing center in South Africa. Her lifetime of travel also took her to the Philippines as an exchange student, to Europe on many occasions, and to South America. Everywhere she went she made new friends. Many of these friends remained in close contact with Ms. Baird over decades and her family home in Cedaredge became known for its international guests.
Ms. Baird lived a remarkable life. She was modest in her wants but incredibly generous with her friends and family. Her travels and adventures were staggeringly varied — she climbed mountains, crossed Europe on a bicycle, slept in shepherd’s huts, and celebrated her 40th wedding anniversary last year in Paris at La Coupole — always with her beloved husband Steve by her side. The range of her connections was unparalleled: she reached out to inmates serving life terms and to middle class professionals with equal sincerity, her circle of care truly knew no bounds.
Ms. Baird never stopped learning and growing. She participated in reading circles and persistently strove to push her friends to read challenging books. She practiced music with admirable dedication. Her answer was always affirmative. Yes to her faith, to her family and friends, to the notion that life is worth living to the fullest and on her own terms. Such a life bears remembering.
Ms. Baird is survived by her husband Stephen; her children Zephyr, Regna, Zachary, and Rachel; her brother John; sister Carolyn; her Aunt Cebe and Uncle Glen; and her grandchildren Nolan, Paulo, Angus, Henri, Gabriela and Connor.
In keeping with her dedication to the needs of others, the family suggests a donation, in lieu of flowers, to Solar Cookers International, an organization dedicated to serving refugees that Ms. Baird supported for two decades.