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Today, as always, you are missed

June 6, 2023
Chris and I are with students in your Blackbox theater right now. Watching these students perform makes me feel your presence here.  You are always here and always missed.  At the same time.  

Program for Les's Memorial.

May 16, 2022
(I couldn't download the photos that went with it.  Can someone take photos of theirs and put it up here?)
a celebration and remembrance
Frederic Leslie “Les” Baird

St. Mark’s School

25 Marlboro Road, Southborough, MA 01772
saturday, may 14, 2022

class of 1945 hall putnam family arts center st. mark’s school
Order of service

Reverend Barbara G. Talcott
Head Chaplain

PERFORMANCE: The Blackbird: Traditional Performed by Thomas Kelly, Uilleann Pipes


Ann Whiteside

Tennyson B. Hunt ’10
Kenneth D. Wells III, P’13
St. Mark’s Faculty 1985–2018, Scenic Designer
Eulogy for Les Baird from Fantasy for Flute and Bell
Composed and performed by John Whiteside, organist
Christopher T. Kent
St. Mark’s Faculty

Miles T. Borchard ’15
Sue Lauther

Litanies Composed by Jehan Alain Performed by John Whiteside, organist

Reception in Taft Hall following the service.
All guests are welcome and encouraged to share a short story about Les.

Dubious Achievements of Les Baird  (According to himself)
Other dubious achievements accumulated over the years include: knocked Madonna on her butt, ran an 8K race at a nudist camp; a former student dedicated her second book to me; has a complete collection of Topps baseball cards from 1957 to the present; witnessed a cremation on the Ganges River; wrote and directed a play based on the board game “Risk”; attended a Tanzanian wedding; was a professional mime; had close calls with both an eight-foot shark and an angry barracuda; taught in Australia, Jordan and China; spent 20 hours in a Russian jail, played catch with Tom Hanks and John Goodman; ingested a large gelatinous cube of cow’s blood, haggis (sheep’s heart, liver and lungs served in its stomach), chicken feet, fish head soup, mare’s milk vodka, and roasted wedding goat.

“Comfort the Disturbed, Disturb the Comfortable.” October 22, 1946–June 5, 2021

Les Baird 1946 –2021
Les Baird came suddenly into his final repose after experiencing a heart attack. He was a great lover of tennis, baseball, the theatre, and was deeply enriched by his experience “couch surfing” in over 50 countries. He is survived by his longtime sweetie Sue Lauther; daughter Julia “Neelima” Baird; stepmother Barbara Baird; sisters Ann (John) Whiteside and Kathy (Joe) Baird; niece Leah (Scott) Whiteside and their children Calvin and Ruby; and nephew David (Seif ) Whiteside. Les also leaves behind legions of adoring students, in whom he instilled a deep respect for theatrical arts and an abiding affection for his own comic inspiration, Groucho Marx. An interactive online memorial can be found at

“Come on Gypsies, Let’s Ride!"

Sue's offerings in Les's, Memorial today

May 14, 2022
Some folks wanted to read what I offered at Les's memorial today, so here you go:
Les's Valentine Sonnet to Sue 2002

That Sunday in the fallo of a distant year,
We walked the arboritum, touching hands.
Now it's taken your all to quell my fear
And mine to sooth your shifting sands

When the kid-worn work of my day is done
and rugged snows roar blind and deep,
You, my Sue, are the only one
I'll dream of when I drift to sleep.

Won't you be my mate to delve and play?
This time you be the dad and I'll be the mother.
Sue, I'm here because I could not stay away:
Let's savor our lives with the sense of the other.

So come rest beside me, warm and near;
You are my winter sun, my dear

{A file I found that I wrote to Les on his computer:}
Howdy Les!!
Someday you'll find this.... let me know when.... I may have to blow it and tell you, because I want you to read this soon...
We talked about that a little last night.  We both seem to be struggling with what that whole concept is about.... There is so much about you that creates a deep feeling of gratitude in me.  I love you: your wit, your sensitivity, your creativity, your generosity, your ego, your lack of ego, your patience, your depth, your willingness to risk - to open me into your emotional self, your attentiveness, your appreciation of simple and deep gifts, your way, in that way you are smart, your honesty, your attention to detail and your ability to see the whole picture, your metaphors, your fantasies, [fantasy baseball teams: Mazeroski's and Logan Street Les-bians to name only 2]  your energy, your positive view of the world and its possibilities, your problem-solving in the most "win-win" way, your artwork, your "body intelligence," your forgiveness of yourself, of me and of others,... (I could go on for pages....)
Simply what this says.  I love so many things about you.  I love you Les....
Oh, This morning at the very same time as the planes hit the towers, a sparrow dove into my door and died. 
I sang "Circle Game" and buried it in the pine needles for it and all those we lost today.

{A  Birthday Card I Sent to Les on His 65th Birthday:}
Today, watching you frolic in the sea made me love you so deeply.  You are giving me so much in your ways: you absorb what you learn about a place.  You support all the efforts people make, you give your all to make something happen and also celebrate that which moves you.  I loved watching you dive, anticipate, throw yourself, seek, calibrate, celebrate, paddle and kick and come up salty-eyed to do it again [and again and again] because it exemplifies YOU -- your best self: playing, learning, growing, moving, joining with.... I love the way you augment me.  Happy Birthday, Sweetie! -- Love Sue and the rest of the world & Tarka too.

David Sullivan sent this note to me about Les…

July 16, 2021
I shall miss Les. What a wonderful guy! He and I had tons of fun at CC. We were in some art classes together and were constantly making fools of ourselves. Les loved theater so deeply. He got me into acting in some of the plays.
Lynn Morris and I performed as a brother and sister act called Dave & Lynn Seed. Les talked us into doing a second billing to him when did Ronald MacDonald appearances..
Together we three misfits did gigs all over Colorado Springs and Pueblo in 1968/69. We performed at elementary schools, MacDonald's restaurants, and on the back of a flatbed trailer - - - anywhere we could find permission. A local ad agency paid us absurdly handsomely. Lynn was terrific on the banjo while I backed her up on guitar. We sang a boatload of silly kid's songs after Les told ridiculous jokes and did tricks.
Les was the only one of us who could drive, so he had to ferry Lynn and me to all the shows. He was frequently late - - - probably because he hated putting on all that Ronald McD makeup.
Back then it was such a hoot hearing him curse at other drivers on the way to the gigs. Nothing like being yelled at and getting the finger from a raging clown with red hair who thinks you're going too slow.
— David Sullivan, CC '69
July 15, 2021
barelywhite_18cdece53c You can hear Les in the audience, participating enthusiastically.
1st meeting, a couple hrs. before 1st class. I'm coming out of music class holding a copy of Frank Zappa 'Lumpy Gravy'. Les comments favorably toward the album, winning me over instantly. 1st play I was in, "Enter Laughing" with one or two lines, yet I see the first of five opening-night letters I received, full of positive reinforcement and at least twice as long as my part. I probably still have that note along with the other four. 5th and final play, "Whose Life Is It, Anyway?", I get the lead. I think his name was Ken Harrison but the cover of my script says "Veg Boy". Meanwhile, many trips to Denver to see Germinal Stage productions, as well as David Bowie testing his skills as "The Elephant Man", and the equally memorable hangs at the NY Deli and Haagen Dazs. Also, I performed with Les, though never in the same scene, in the Star Bar Players' production of "The Shadow Box". Fast forward three and a half decades and I'm back in Les' Colo. Spgs. house having a wonderful reunion, then he's watching my band a couple months later, then three years after that. Two days after that, I get a post on Facebook that is the essence of the old opening-night letters. Les Baird's love and encouragement will never be replaced but will also never go away.
June 22, 2021
Les and I met in January of 1973 when we were both cast in a production of The Crucible. From that happy accident a crucial friendship grew. We were in our mid-twenties, and each in the process of assembling the adult we hoped to be. Because we shared strong mutual interests in theater, movies, politics, books, teaching, and laughter, easy connectives all, (oh, and we were both quite verbal and loved the silliness and beauty of language) we, in some way, grew into each other. We became, for each other, a part of our foundational selves. Without him now, my life feels a little less stable. He lived completely in the moment. Sometimes this was frustrating, of course, if you were waiting for him to stop over as he said he was going to, and then something else caught his attention. But he was always easily forgiven. Les was brave in large and small ways. I always admired that. He helped me to be so too. Here is an example of a tiny act of bravery on his part that we laughed about for years. We were sitting in his kitchen in the house on Columbia one afternoon, it must have been in 1977 or so. I had stopped over and Les had poured me a large glass of water. We were talking intently about something, who knows what, when I suddenly looked at the full glass of water and then up to his face. I said, "You know, I have always wanted to throw a glass of water in someone's face." Les looked at me, skeptically at first, but then his great smile took over his face and he said, "Do it!" We looked at each other, both laughing, for a few seconds, and then, I did it. It was remarkable, explosive, and (the part we had not thought of) extremely messy. Most of the water went to either side of his face and hit the wall creating a huge mess. We spent the next twenty minutes laughing and cleaning. It never happened again. It didn't need to. I'll miss him the rest of my life. More later about theater and much else, including some pictures, if I can figure out how to do that. Be well everyone.  james

Tremendous advisor, director, and person

June 16, 2021
I was lucky to be Mr. Baird's student and advisee at Elgin Academy in the late 90s. He cast me as Dracula in a very quirky musical called "Dracula Spectacula" and it was one of the most challenging and exciting experiences of my entire school career. He could be goofy, eccentric, and entertaining, but he was also extremely demanding. He pushed us all to do our best work and was not afraid to express his disappointment when we hadn't learned our lines or weren't focused. At the same time, when he delivered praise it was sincere, specific, and made you feel like you were the best actor on the planet. He loved Shakespeare, especially the comedies, and took us downtown every year to see a play at the Shakespeare Rep as well as the Neo Futurists improvisation group. These were some of my very best high school memories. 

He hated snobbery and arrogance, and he insisted that everyone involved in his plays and musicals get experience both on stage and behind the scenes. He told incredible stories, cared about us as individuals, and was an incredible mentor. He loved Seinfeld as much as I did, and every Friday in advisory we would discuss and retell jokes from the previous night's episode. When the show ended, he bought us all a box of junior mints, and I kept mine for months as a souvenir. He inspired so many students to be more confident, more diligent, and more true to ourselves. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been one of them. Sending love and comfort to his family and close friends at this difficult time. 

A true gem

June 13, 2021
I believe I had the pleasure of learning from Mr. Baird every year at St. Mark’s - from drama classes, to plays and one acts. I came to St. Mark’s with both a theater and sports background, and was grateful to be able to continue both. Mr. Baird’s classes/activities were always a refreshing change of pace from the rest of our schedule, and his personality was unmatched. He was passionate about sharing his craft, especially with those who were new to theater. I remember some of the exercises we did in class to get into character, the elaborate (and fun!) set we had for Midsummer Night’s Dream and how proud he was of the One Acts. I’m so very sorry for his loss, but he lives on in the lessons he taught and lives he touched 

A skeleton walked into a bar...

June 12, 2021
We had the privilege of traveling with Sue and Les in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico during their around-the-world venture.  When we could tear Les away from fine-tuning his fantasy baseball teams, Les would attempt to share his favorite joke with shop keepers or waiters or whomever was around, improving his Spanish translation every time.  Sure enough, before our time was through, Les had mastered his delivery and confidently relayed (in Spanish), "A skeleton walked into a bar and ordered a beer and a mop...." Thanks, Les, for your humor and your ability to help everyone around you to relax and enjoy life.  - Maureen and Jenn


June 12, 2021
This is the most recent photo I have of the oft-mentioned field fowl, sent to me this April as proof that Himself had indeed been raiding the hummingbird feeder. I place this as an offering and a prompt for his followers to share their tales...

The Flamingos

June 12, 2021
So, if you've hung out with my dad you'll have noticed a flamingo here and there. 
This is one of those stories that I grew up with, and so it has a gap or two that may be filled in by people who were not toddlers when they first heard it.  But it goes something like this... it was college days, and one of his cohorts was about to be married.  A group of pals was out together reveling the night before, when they became aware of (or sought out?) a preponderance of pink plastic flamingos in yards throughout the area.  Together these friends - uhh - liberated dozens of the rosy creatures and then collectively planted them in the about-to-be-married friend's yard - head down.  From that day forward, a cheeky tip-of-the hat has been made to the leggy darlings wherever Baird did roam.  

Les moves to his first apartment

June 12, 2021
When Les was about 19, he moved out of the house to an apartment that was 6-8 blocks from home. As his sister Ann, I realized after a couple of weeks that I missed Les terribly! The house was boring without him. My big brother companion was gone and I was lonely. I decided to solve that myself. I got on my little green and whitebike with training wheels and and rode my bike to his apartment. I didn’t tell my parents or anyone what I was doing. I felt like I could take care of myself. I rode to Les’ apartment (somehow assuming he would be there), knocked on the door, and said “Hi!”  Imagine Les’ surprise! I think the first thing he said was something like “ what are doing here”, which led to questions about how I got there, who knew, and so on. I was a bit disappointed in the response. And still so proud of myself. What an amazing brother to put up with me following him wherever he tried to go!

Couch Surfing "Everybody Dances" video by Sue

June 11, 2021
It's not really my story, but it just felt like such a great way to kick off this section.  My dad and Sue traveled all around the world together, with only what they could carry and a couch-surfing itinerary that allowed them quite genuine experiences of each location.  Throughout, they exhibited a spirit of adventure uniquely their own.  I eagerly anticipated their blog updates, which were thought-provoking, heart-probing, and generally fantastic tales of connection through (and beyond) culture.  This is a video Sue created out of many of their snippets, that captures the mood perfectly!

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