September 14, 1921 ~ April 11, 2019
Jane Catherine Spencer Baird, a resident of Manhattan Beach, California for over 60 years, died last April at her beloved home, at age 97.
Mrs. Baird was well known as a ballet and dance teacher in the South Bay for many years. She specialized in the Cecchetti graded method of ballet instruction and established her own studio as the "J. Catherine Baird Classical Ballet School." She taught dance to children and adults at several local dance studios over the years, and also in a ballet studio in her home.
Born in 1921 as the third of four children of a US Army officer, she learned to love travel early in life. She became an ice skater in her early teens, and continued to skate competitively into early adulthood.
Airplane flying was becoming a popular activity in the late 1930's and early 1940's and she was drawn to it. She took lessons and became a licensed pilot of small engine aircraft in her 20's. To pay for lessons and support herself, she became an airplane inspector, and worked for the military during World War II. It was her love of flying that introduced her to Stoddard Baird, who was a US Air Force pilot training Chinese cadets. Their marriage lasted until his death in 2002.
During their marriage, they lived in many places throughout the U.S., and in Japan. She loved learning about Japanese culture and made sure her children had unique opportunities to experience Japanese life. She continued in contact with Japanese friends the rest of her life. Her home and garden reflected her love of Japanese art and culture.
While in Japan, she enrolled her daughters in Japanese ballet schools, and her love for ballet grew. When the family settled in Manhattan Beach, she continued her daughters' ballet training, and she herself eventually completed rigorous training to be certified as a Cecchetti ballet teacher.
Her love for ice skating also accompanied her through life, and she and her husband were both certified as ice skating judges, traveling around the U.S. for competitions.
She was fascinated with history and culture, traveled widely, and visited Europe and Scandinavia many times, both on her own and also with her husband. Travel continued to be a big part of her later years, including several trips to Alaska, various U.S. destinations, and trips to the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, and Bermuda.
Her voracious appetite for knowledge and new experiences was legendary among all who knew her. Natural healing, spiritual growth, and the value of music and dance to improve lives were fundamental beliefs.
Her love and delight in her children, granchildren and great grandchildren was unlimited. She is survived by her children and their spouses, Catherine Wieder (Terry), Richard Baird (Donna), and Virginia Humphries (Tony), six grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren (including twins expected in April).
In her memory, the family has donated Mrs. Baird's many ballet and cultural dance costumes, dance and music-related books and records, recording equipment, and ballet studio equipment to THE DANCE FOR HEALING PROJECT, which is a private non-profit organization that brings dance and dance therapy to children and adults who are recovering from trauma, and people who are underserved, marginalized and have special needs.
The family would appreciate any donations in Mrs. Baird's memory to be made to THE DANCE FOR HEALING PROJECT, an IRS 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. Your donation is tax-deductible. hppts://www.danceforhealingproject.org/donate You can donate via PayPal online, get more informaton about the organization on their website, or contact the co-founder Jamie Hammond-Carbetta by email to Jamie@ponyboxdance.org, by phone to 562-256-0198, or by mail to:
DANCE FOR HEALING PROJECT
3687 Hackett Ave.
Long Beach CA 90808
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