Joseph Francis Baird, 92, died where he wanted to be, at his ranch in Love Lake near Shumway, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, following a lengthy illness. Private family graveside services will be held, as he will be laid to rest at his little spot of heaven on his own ranch in Love Lake.
Joe was born on Jan. 27, 1919, at the same ranch in Love Lake to the late Francis Joseph and Agnus (Love) Baird. His parents moved to the Love Lake ranch in 1903. He was born the eighth of 12 children and attended school at the little schoolhouse in Shumway. During his senior year of high school, Joe went to, and graduated from, St. Johns High School.
A few years after his high school graduation and during the height of World War II, Joe heard his patriotic call and enlisted in the United States Navy. He was stationed in San Diego, where his service included painting of dozens of war planes that were sent out in battle to help keep our borders safe. He was proud of his service.
Following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, he returned home to a family anxious to give him a hero’s welcome. After he returned home, Joe used his G.I. Bill and learned to fly himself. Unfortunately, he had an incident at his Love Lake Ranch when he crashed a plane and narrowly escaped injury or even death. He considered himself lucky and found a newfound appreciation for those he loved the most, his family.
In 1950, Joe and his wife, Nadine, purchased the Navajo Inn in Show Low and successfully operated it for 10 full years.
He also was one of the first volunteer firefighters for the City of Show Low.
Joe was a man who wore many hats and also owned his own trucking company. He hauled countless loads of lumber from McNary and the Reidhead Sawmill to Phoenix.
Joe believed in giving back to his communities. He was a founding member of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elk, Show Low Lodge No. 2090, and literally spent thousands of hours helping in the hundreds of fundraisers over the past several decades.
He was also a 50+-year member of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association. He was an expert cattle rancher on his own ranch for the past 50 years. He was successful in any endeavor he undertook and many learned from his example of hard work, honesty and integrity.
Joe loved being anywhere outside, whether it was working on his ranch, or camping with his family and friends, or enjoying a quiet day at the lake reeling in the big fish. Joe also loved his horses. He loved being atop of them and became an extremely skilled team roper. He won literally dozens of competitions over the years and was never shy to talk to anyone who would listen to his life’s colorful stories.
During the past 25 years, Joe and Nadine enjoyed living the winter months in Pumpkin Center in the Tonto Basin, where he was able to spend many days honing his team roping skills.
This incredible man will be missed by many but none will miss him more than those he called wife, children, grandchildren, great and great-great-grandchildren.
Survivors include his wife, Nadine Baird of Love Lake; four children, Charlie (Cloe) Baird of the Ft. Worth, Texas, area, Dixon (Tish) Baird of Mesa, Bob (Mary Ann) Baird of Love Lake and Jolene Baird of Love Lake; nine grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.
Along with his parents, Joe was preceded in death by 11 of his brothers and sisters.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Joe’s name to the White Mountain Hospice Foundation, P.O. Box 1975, Lakeside, Ariz. 85929.
Owens Livingston Mortuary of Holbrook was in charge of the arrangements.