WOOSTER – Jean Hideko Baird passed away on Sunday, April 19 at West View Manor, after a two- year battle with lung cancer. She was 73.
She was born Sept. 3,1935 on the island of Maui, in what was then the Territory of Hawaii. She was the daughter of Minoru and Akiyo Matsumoto, whose parents had migrated from Japan to Hawaii around the turn of the century.
She completed elementary school on Maui, and then attended Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, from which she graduated in 1953.
She attended Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio and graduated in 1957 with a B.S. in Education with Honors in Speech. At Wittenberg she met William Baird, and they were married on Sept. 1, 1957.
They resided in Springfield from 1958 until 1968. While in Springfield, Jean held several tutoring and teaching positions, including teaching English and Speech at Shawnee Local High School.
In 1968, they moved to Wooster when her husband joined the faculty of The College of Wooster. After her children were in high school, she accepted employment with The City of Wooster, and remained there in several capacities until she retired in 2001: July 1975- Sept. 1990, Community Services Division Manager; Sept. 1990- Feb. 1994, Director of Service; Feb. 1994- April 1995, Director of Service/Development; April 1995- Jan. 2001, Director of Administration.
Jean was best known for her tireless efforts at improving the quality of life in Wooster for everyone. The list of her volunteer activities is extensive: Board of Directors of Wayne Center for the Arts; League of Women Voters (several offices, including President); Board of Directors of Wooster Interfaith Housing; Board of Directors of Wooster Area Day Care; Board of Directors of United Way (three different times); Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries of Wayne County; member of the Wayne County Women’s Network; member of the Wayne County Health, Education and Welfare group; member of Main Street Wooster; member of the Wooster Growth Corporation; member of the Wooster Board of Education School Advisory Council; member of the Wayne County Housing Coalition; and member of Stage Partners of Wayne County.
At the time of her death she was a member of Quota International of Wooster (president 1987 -88); Rotary Club of Wooster; Ethnic Fair Steering Committee; Village Network Corporation; College of Wooster Leadership Group; and the Embracing Our Differences steering committee.
She was the recipient of many awards and honors. She received the Women of Achievement Award of the City of Wooster in 1996. In 2000, she received the Main Street Wooster Award for commitment to downtown and in 2001 she was inducted to the Chamber of Commerce Wall of Fame -the first woman to receive this honor. She received an international Athena award in 2002. In 2005, she was named the Quotarian
of the Year by Quota International of Wooster, and in 2009 she was given a Heroes award by the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
In all these activities she tried to be a mentor and example to younger women starting their careers in business or government.
Her recreational interests included bicycling, hiking, College of Wooster basketball, skiing and traveling, especially with her family. Late in her life, she was showing promise at pottery making, but she was disappointed that her growing weakness forced her to give this up.
She is survived by Diane Polo, her sister, and Fred Matsumoto, her brother, both of Maui, Hawaii. She is also survived by her husband Bill, of Wooster, her son Michael Baird,
and her daughter Terri-Lynne Smiles, both of Columbus, Ohio. She was especially proud of her three grandchildren -Lianne Emiko Martin, Stephanie Hideko Baird, and Andrew Christopher Smiles.
A celebration of her life will be held on the patio of the Wooster Inn on May 17 from 3 until 5 p.m. Final arrangements are provided by McIntire, Davis, and Greene. In lieu of flowers or gifts, memorial contributions may be made to Quota International of Wooster, P .0. Box 1384, Wooster, OH; Wayne Center for the Arts, Hospice and Palliative Care of Wayne County, or The College of Wooster.
Quota International, PO Box 1384, Wooster, OH 44691 or the Wayne Center for the Arts, 237 S. Walnut St., Wooster, OH 44691 or Hospice & Palliative Care of Greater Wayne Co., 2525 Back Orrville Rd., Wooster, OH 44691 or to The College of Wooster, Wooster, OH 44691
Sunday, May 17, 2009 at the Wooster Inn from 3-5:00 P.M.
No Calling Hours