Ralph E. Baird, 94 year old Woodward County resident, died Saturday, June 11, 2016. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2016 in the Billings Funeral Home Chapel with Gordon Lawson officiating. Interment will follow in Elmwood Cemetery.
Ralph Edwin Baird, Jr. was born on October 19, 1921 on a farm south of Woodward to Ralph Edwin and Berenice (Delp) Baird. He grew up there and helped his parents work the farm, plowing behind horses at an early age, helping thrash wheat, and even herding turkeys. Herding turkeys was not a favorite chore of his. Ralph rode a horse to school and started hunting coyotes on a horse. He graduated from Sharon Schools in the eighth grade and Woodward High School in 1941. He then enlisted in the United States Army in February of 1942.
On August 1, 1942 he married Erma Jacquelyn Russell. On August 31, 1942 Ralph's call to duty came in from the Army. Ralph did his basic training at Fort Sill. From there he went to California to train on B-17 planes. Ralph then was stationed at Dyersburg, Tennessee where he trained with nine other crew members. In November of 1943, the crew loaded on the Queen Elizabeth along with thousands of other soldiers for a six day ocean journey. Ralph then was stationed on an air base in England. It was on their 13th mission, February 22, 1942, that his plane was shot down. He was captured and was a Prisoner of War until May of 1945.
Ralph was honorably discharged in October of 1945. He received the Purple Heart, European Theater of Operations, three Bronze Stars, and the Air Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters. Ralph was the last living survivor of the ten man crew. Ralph also was awarded a Quilt of Valor in November of 2015.
After the war Ralph dedicated himself to farming and raising his family. He loved to work, operate and repair his machinery. He was truly a good steward of the land and was always looking for ways to improve or help with the conservation of the land and the wildlife. Ralph also helped set the electric poles when electricity was first introduced to Woodward County.
He loved to hunt and fish, but his passion was raising greyhounds and catching coyotes. He continued to hunt coyotes until he was 90 years old. Ralph and his wife Jackie had a dairy for 22 years. Ralph continued to farm and raise cattle until he was 75, but continued to run his backhoe and tractors until the age of 89.
Ralph and Jackie took many trips around the United States, but his favorite was to Alaska. 1n 1993 they traveled overseas to where Ralph was once held as a POW.
Ralph was a member of the Sharon United Methodist Church. He was also a member of the POW Panhandle Chapter of Woodward.
Ralph is survived by his children, John Baird and wife Carol of Sharon; Gay Prior of Colorado; Lynn Tidmore and husband David of Locust Grove; eight grandchildren, Destry Baird; Dusty Shryock; Bobi Wallace; Nick Prior; Julie Brock; Kevin Prior; Jennifer Brock; and Jared Brock; seven great-grandchildren; 2 great-great grandchildren; numerous other family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Veteran's Passport To Hope with the funeral home accepting the contributions.
Remembrances may be shared online at www.billingsfuneralhomewoodward.com
Published on June 15, 2016