BIRD, Robert F. Passed away peacefully on September 30, 2016 at the age of 91. He was born in Worcester and grew up in Roslindale, the oldest of seven children of the late Det. Sgt Roland W. Bird and the late Charlotte (Tellier) Bird. When Bob was still in High School and thinking about possible careers, he chose to take some Business courses, one of which was typing. "It was the best thing I ever did!," he always claimed, as it opened doors both in the Service, and later at his job in the Police Department. When Bob graduated from High School, World War II had already begun and he immediately joined the US Army Air Force. Because he already knew how to type with speed, he was sent to the US Air Corps Radio School at Wisconsin University and he became a High Speed Radio Operator. As a member of the 136th Signals Radio Intelligence Company he was assigned to the North Pacific Operations in the Aleutian Islands, a busy thoroughfare in the Air War, and his job was to intercept US and Japanese Morse Code and type it at the same time that it was coming in. This was extremely valuable to the war effort and allowed the US to stay one step ahead of Japan. Bob was also trained as a Central Tower Radio Operator and directed US aircraft at various strategic air bases, but it was his Morse code job of which he was most proud.|
His career as a police officer started as a lifelong wish to follow in his father's footsteps in the Boston Police Department, however, there was a problem. Bob was a gymnast of sorts, agile and thin. After trying his hardest to gain the required weight he was still short nine pounds. Ever the resourceful guy, just prior to the physical required for admittance to the Police Academy, Bob consumed eleven pounds of bananas and made the weight requirement. His first assignment as a new Police Officer at District Nine in Roxbury, MA, in the busiest crime area in the City of Boston, was to walk from the Station all the way up Dudley Street to Columbia Rd. in the middle of the night, alone, repeatedly. But, once the Police Department realized they had a guy who could type 120 words/minute in their midst, most of the rest of Bob's career had a lot to do with typing. He was assigned for a time to the front desk in every Station where he worked, and was often called in to work to write and type hundreds of Police reports, especially the more difficult reports because otherwise those reports would be handwritten, which was less than ideal for many reasons. Even when Bob was a Detective Sergeant charged with leading a group of undercover detectives who successfully broke up several large gambling rings, Bob continued to type special reports for the Department and he was singularly proud of that.
As straightforward a guy as Bob could be as a cop, Bob had a gentle, artistic side which allowed him to be a wonderful and talented photographer. Wherever he went and whatever he did, he brought along one of his many cameras, usually his favorite "Rolli". Every party, trip, children's event, and happy times was captured on film. His family has hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures and slides. He was the School Photographer during his children's school years; he was a portrait photographer for hundreds of people, having created a "studio" in the living room of the family apartment, and he was an accomplished and sought-after wedding photographer for more than forty five years. In addition, his photographs have won numerous awards and Bob earned many commendations from the Town of Duxbury, The Duxbury Clipper, the Police Association, and from the Archbishop of Boston for outstanding photography.
In 1947 Bob met Nancy Delaney, a woman he recently described as "the nicest, loveliest, most beautiful young lady that always caught the eye of every young bachelor in town". They married in 1948 and together Bob and Nancy had 58 years of marriage and seven children before Nancy died in 2006. Bob loved his family, happy to host his grandchildren from California for many summers, thrilled to babysit his grandchildren who lived nearby, and ready to tell all the older ones in his I'm-still-a-cop voice: "Stay out of trouble!"
Bob was predeceased by his siblings, Norman Bird, Yvonne McGrory, Norma McCarthy, and Ronald Bird. His is survived by his sister, Margaret Sweeney of Boynton Beach, FL and his brother, Roland Bird of Mashpee, MA. Bob is also survived by his seven children: Virginia Luongo and her husband, Mike of Acton; Paula Litzky and her husband, Steve of Petaluma, CA; Daniel Bird and his partner, Karen Bowen of Brighton; John Bird and his wife, Christy of Anacortes, WA; Robert J. Bird and his wife, Maryellen Berube of Maynard; Stephen Bird of Brighton; and James Bird and his wife Cynthia of Duxbury; and twelve grandchildren, one great grandchild, and many nieces and nephews.
Visiting hours will be held on Thursday from 4 to 8 P.M. at the Shephard Funeral Home, Main St., Kingston, MA. The funeral will be held from Shephard Funeral Home on Friday, October 7 at 9 A.M. followed by a service at Holy Family Church, 601 Tremont St., Duxbury, MA at 10 A.M.
Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be made in Bob's name to: Alzheimer's Foundation of America, 322 8th Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10001.
Published in The Boston Globe on Oct. 4, 2016