St. Davids, PA: John A. Baird, Jr., the last surviving founding co-trustee of then-Eastern College, died on Wednesday, June 8th, at age 97. “Jack” started his career at Eastern, in 1952, to be treasurer. Almost immediately, the young college’s president asked him to raise funds rather than manage them. As Vice President for a new department called Development (now called Advancement), Mr. Baird raised money for Eastern for 50 years. He led numerous capital campaigns and other fundraising efforts for the young school. Among his successful efforts were campaigns that built Kea Hall, Hainer Hall, Guffin Hall and Warner Memorial Library.
Between 1972 and 1997, Mr. Baird wrote and published 10 works of nonfiction, including various histories of then-Eastern College. One work focused on his family, a central figure of whom was Union Army General Absalom Baird, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The other books were histories of insurance companies. Mr. Baird also authored more than 200 articles for various professional fundraising journals and historical society publications.
Mr. Baird had wide philanthropic interests. He served as a director, trustee or advisor for the Athenaeum, the Ludington Library, the Pennsylvania Lupus Foundation, Ralston House, the Right Angle Club, Volunteer Services for the Blind, the Main Line YMCA, the Seaman’s Church Institute, Pennsylvania Historical Society, the Society of Colonial Wars and the Order of Foreign Wars. He started or led a number of nonprofits’ fundraising endeavors.
An Eagle Scout and director of the local chapter of the Boy Scouts, Mr. Baird was a trustee of Shipley School, in Bryn Mawr, for 28 years and served as its chairman. He was President of the Delaware Chapter of the Society of the Cincinnati and, later, Secretary-General of the national Society of the Cincinnati, an organization for the descendants of officers who served in George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War.
A 1940 graduate of Princeton University, Mr. Baird was a committed Christian and devoted family man. He is survived by two of his three daughters, Suzanne Perot and Barbara Rogers. Their sister, Linda Woodruff, died in 2010. Mr. Baird is also survived by three grandsons and six great-grandchildren. His son-in-law, James Rogers, serves as Vice President for Planned Giving at Eastern, which he joined in 1988.
Honoring a very important wish of Mr. Baird, the family enthusiastically encourages donors to make memorial gifts to Eastern University.