Posted by Geoff Cleveland on July 15, 2021
It is nearly impossible to write about Les Baird because it will be impossible to stop, but here goes. From 1978-81 Les Baird was "Mr. Baird", my teacher in drama, stagecraft, public speaking etc. and my mentor as the leader of a weird little high school clique known as The Drama Dept. Considering the average age of most of his students then and throughout Mr. Baird's career, combined with his uniquely enthusiastic care for his, pupils, it can be said without hyperbole that he saved lives, possibly mine. Those three years involved more than a book's worth of "work" and fun which I will share to a small extent in the 'stories' section, along with more recent episodes. I wound up being a performer in mostly instrumental music but the "Les-sons" of Mr. Baird have lasted my whole life, both offstage and onstage. As for the latter, Les attended the two most recent 'clutch cargo' shows I led and responded with his characteristic positively-affirming enthusiasm.
Posted by Karen Kohlhaas on July 8, 2021
Les is responsible for most of the things I've ended up doing with my life. My family moved to Colorado Springs from Los Angeles and I was so unhappy about leaving my friends that I planned to take extra classes to graduate early and go back to California. But then I found the drama department at Cheyenne, and Les. I stayed. Because of his teaching and passion for theater, and the file cabinet stuffed full of new plays he kept in the green room, I changed my plan from studying music in college to studying theater. Because of him, I knew to make sure I took a seminar with David Mamet, his favorite playwright, when I got to NYU, which eventually led to becoming part of the Atlantic Theater Company, still going 35+ years later. I teach through Atlantic and on my own, and am currently living in Mississippi to finish a documentary on Tennessee Williams. All of this stems from the intense respect for theater and playwrights instilled by Baird. I have no idea what I would be doing right now had I not met him. Thank you, thank you. I also will always remember the privilege of being in his advanced acting class, which along with the great classes meant trips to see Germinal Stage Denver, complete with giant deli sandwiches and Haagen Dazs ice cream.
Posted by Leigh Pomeroy on July 5, 2021
Les was an inspiration to me at Colorado College. He was our #1 comedic actor. #2 was his classmate David Sullivan, and when they needed a 3rd one, I came off the bench. It was such an honor to be in any theatrical presentation with him, to observe and learn from the quality of his craft. We finally reconnected after about a 50 year hiatus, and I was still in awe of him.
Posted by Tom Falgien on June 21, 2021
It was a time when Gene came to rule the universe from the green room at Cheyenne Mountain High School and the Bionic Child roamed the auditorium during rehearsals. There was a magical man there who bestowed gifts on insecure, clueless, hormonal, self-centered, sometimes adrift, adolescents. He gave us gifts of Belief, Confidence, Trust, and Responsibility. Some of these attributes became part of us as we lived on, but they indeed began as gifts from Les Baird. 
We learned from Les to find our feelings, perhaps tell ourselves the truth about them, and attempt to communicate these feelings to others; he called it acting. I believe it was therapy. We heard similar fears and feelings from fellow students and discovering these commonalities was revelation.
Being part of a play directed by Les provided a connection and community that forced growth and risks, as well as tolerance and collaboration. Yes, everyone had to perform; Les was not interested in directing robots to perform a soulless, ego driven, mise en scene.  Thank Gene we did not have to work constrained by the politically correct police, that said Les created an inclusive environment before anyone knew what that even meant. Society would be much improved if we all possessed Baird’s ability to include and gather people.
Les would laugh, cry, tease, pun, curse, and challenge—in the span of a minute or two. Hooray for Captain Spaulding. Hey keep up here. Come up with a spontaneous pun, ace your scene, really connect with the audience, recover from a blunder, get a laugh, make props out of something you found in a dumpster, “find” materials, build scenery and you were a star. As a community we learned a common language--Benches were measured by the number people they would hold and the unit of measurement was the number of buns. Place the six bun bench down left……We learned to move “gaboons of gradu” and understand the occasional cautionary remark “sois sage mon enfant” (be wise my child).
His infectious enthusiasm for almost everything attracted people; He welcomed us completely into his life and home. When talking with Les you had his complete interest and felt important; after reading his opening night note you went on to perform knowing you were significant. What a gift.  
I very much regret losing contact with Les and would like to tell him that I am eternally grateful for our magical time together and for his influence in my life.  For all of us who love Les, my condolences. Gene juice for all in his memory.
Et lux perpetua luceat ei
Posted by Payton Rylee on June 16, 2021
I did not like high school very much overall, but Mr. Baird always made my day. He took an interest in me and my success as well as happiness and I appreciated that so much. I took acting 1 and 2 with him and I still think about those classes sometimes, after nearly 10 years. He taught me a lot about how it feels to walk in another person's shoes and how to appreciate seemingly odd art forms like Einstein on the Beach (which really seems just random and weird). He was not afraid to push people out of their comfort zones. He was such a caring man. I still think about the quote he had on his board "Generality is the enemy of all art." He taught me how to make a fool of myself. When he retired from SM, he gave me, along with a few other students, a replicate moo mug (which he always had on his desk). Mr. Baird will live on with all of us in the silliness and fun he taught us to implement into every day life.
Posted by KELLY WALTERS on June 15, 2021
Les, I have never met anyone so kind, so enthused with life and theatre and life AS theatre. We read a play together and traded life tales; you quoted masked, clown-nosed Shakespeare for my birthday and we performed another masked commedia tribute together in another driveway, laughing at our shared absurdity. And I had dreams..... dreams of many more stories, dinners, wines, perhaps a play together, perhaps a tennis ball or two. I looked so forward to more time together, but your full commitment to a life lived joyfully will always shine on in my heart.
Posted by Wendy McPhee on June 15, 2021
Les was part of the wonderful theater group I belonged to at Colorado College. I have never forgotten his gentle and fun ways, and I find it hard to believe that he is gone. May he rest in peace.
Posted by Whitney Herndon on June 11, 2021
Les will always hold a special place in my heart. He and sue made me feel welcome here in CO when I first moved here…into their upstairs apartment. I never thought that I’d make lifelong friends with the sweetest most caring couple that lived downstairs. Forever remembered.
Posted by Saru Wade on June 11, 2021
Mr. Baird was my drama teacher at Elgin Academy many years ago. He was an incredible teacher who cared for his students beyond the classroom. He helped me build my confidence and find my voice during the hard teenage years. He cast me in Midsummer Night’s Dream, an epic production he had been working on for years, and it was a highlight of high school for me. Rest In Peace Mr. Baird.
Posted by Jenay Johnson on June 10, 2021
There’s so much I could say about Les. He and Sue totally changed my life. Les always reminded me to take big risk and live life to the fullest!
Posted by Kevin Tierney on June 10, 2021
Mr. Baird, you legend. Thank you for making space for me, for encouraging me, for challenging me. It was an honor to be your student. I will continue to remember you fondly and attempt to share your spirit with my own students.

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