Archives: Obituaries Updated: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:36 PM EDT
"A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again."
Invariably, when one door closes others are flung open Hannah Baird had a gift for pointing this out. She had a way of turning endings into opportunities and despair into hope. Problems were simply soon-to-be-solved challenges.
On a Sunday afternoon in May, women, men and children gathered at Florence Nature Center to remember Hannah Hume Baird much the same way they spent their moments with her through stories and laughter.
Baird, 64, died of complications from esophageal cancer at her Florence home in March.
One by one, friends and acquaintances among the crowd of more than one hundred took turns at the microphone to share some of their favorite memories of Baird, who was a tireless advocate of women's issues, and loyal supporter to numerous Democratic candidates.
But it was likely the motley crew of women circled at the table closest to the homemade desserts who kept Baird's spirit ever present with their laughter. Rose Lege, Pat Yates, Sara Sidebottom, and Sue Cassidy battled verbally to tell their tales.
Sidebottom recalls a two-day excursion for the Kentucky Commission of Women of which Baird was chairperson.
"She pulls out 15 copies of tabloids and says, ‘I brought background reading'" Sidebottom says.
When Cassidy graduated in 1993 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law, it was Baird and a group of women democrats known as the "harpies" who gave one of her most memorable graduation gifts.
"They brought ‘court clothes' for me a white hat with a veil and white gloves," says Cassidy.
Sullivan has two favorite memories. One occurred after Baird's first round of chemotherapy when Baird's husband, Glen, purchased a fully formed Superman suit for his wife to wear. A video of Baird, which ran on the monitor at the nature center building, showed a smiling, muscle-clad Baird, red cape draped over her shoulders, hands on hips, in a victorious stance.
And then, of course, as Lege recalls, there was the Disorganized Women's Association, or DOW. Baird composed a newsletter for the newly formed organization that had no dues, no agenda, and no purpose.
Like a Family Reunion
"There was no one like her," says Baird's sister, Martha Hume of Nashville. "I keep looking around and waiting for her to be here. A lot of these people don't even know each other except through Hannah. We've always taken a lot of people into our family. Hannah did that with her friends. This feels like a family reunion. I feel like we're all related.
Certainly, one of Baird's most passionate commitments was to the historical Dinsmore Homestead in Boone County. Catron Rose Enloe, a Dinsmore descendent, remembers the friendship Baird and her grandmother shared.
As Enloe recalls, her grandmother, Martha Brested, and Baird were as thick as thieves.
"She and Hannah had done a lot of plotting to put Dinsmore together," Enloe says.
Baird was born April 8, 1939 in Stearns, KY. Her father, Whitman Hume, was a newspaper editor and teacher. Baird completed her teaching degree from the University of Kentucky and went on to teach history in Jefferson County schools. In 1976 Baird was a delegate for Jimmy Carter at the Democratic National Convention, and served as a member of the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity in the Carter administration.
"Hannah is the ultimate role model for women in the kind of values and ideals that she symbolized, and also in her commitment to public service," says Kentucky State Auditor, Crit Luallen, who knew Baird from their work on the Kentucky Commission on Women.
KCW Chairperson, Sara Kahman says she will always remember how Baird fought to get her on the committee.
"Hannah made sure I got on," Kahman says. Baird was committed to making the commission bi-partisan and was successful in bringing Kahman on board.
Baird is one of only two Northern Kentucky women to be recognized in the Kentucky Women Remembered collection. The Kentucky Commission on Women added her portrait to be displayed in the state Capitol in Frankfort.
Baird also received the Life Advocate Award at the 20th Annual Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Awards.
Baird is survived by her husband, Dr. Glenn F. Baird of Florence; her son, Glenn Whitman Baird, and her daughter, Hannah Elizabeth Baird, both of Charlotte, N.C.; and her sister, Martha Hume, of Nashville, TN.
Memorials can be sent to the C.W. Hume Scholarship Fund, Attn. Ann Zwick, Somerset Community College, 808 Monticello St., Somerset, KY 42501; or the Dinsmore Homestead Foundation, P.O. Box 453, Burlington, KY. 41005; or the Hannah Hume Baird Fund for the Advancement of Women and Children, Northern Kentucky Women's Crisis Center, 835 Madison Ave., Covington, KY. 41011