MARY JEAN BIRD

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MARY JEAN BIRD Mary Jean Bird left this world for the next on the 15th of June 2013 at 91 years of age. Let us celebrate a life well-lived, not only as a wife and mother, but as a quiet activist who pushed at the limits placed on women and minorities. Mary Jean was a California girl who grew up in Livingston with 4 brothers. She majored in Home Economics at Cal and UC Davis where she also did some competitive diving and, incidentally, found our father Leroy Bird. After graduation she taught sewing for the Singer Company. Sewing became a lifetime avocation as she made clothes for herself, her family and others. Leroy got a job in Covelo teaching Ag Science and Mary Jean became involved in 4H. Allen was born in Oakland as the nearest doctor and hospital were 70 miles from Covelo - but then Robert came into the world at home. Allen attempted to learn about sewing by sticking his finger into the sewing machine after his mother told him not to! The family moved to Red Bluff where Deborah was born. Mary Jean was a stay-at-home mom and seamstress. Music was important to Mary Jean and she played baritone in the Tehama County Band for over 50 years. The Presbyterian Church was a central part of family life and Leroy and Mary Jean participated in the choir and various church organizations and as leaders of youth groups. They also cooked for church and community events and summer camps. After Leroy died Mary Jean did a two year stint in the Peace Corps, teaching sewing and nutrition in Liberia. Here she met a young man, Patrick Yattoh, who she helped through school, enabling him to provide for his family in a country where life is not easy. Patrick named one of his children Mary Jean. Upon Mary Jean's return to Red Bluff, she served on the Session (She thought Leroy would have been a bit shocked - a women on Session?) and then moved up to become Moderator of Presbytery. Wow things were changing! She was active in the church until her hearing made it too difficult to participate. Mary Jean continued to cook locally as well as at Zephyr Cove at Lake Tahoe, and the Charles Cook Indian College/seminary in Tempe, Arizona. Mary Jean's favorite pastime was bowling, and she bowled three times a week until less than a year ago. Last year we surprised her with a 90th birthday trip to Texas where she got have all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren together. Mary Jean is survived by her brother William and her three children Allen, Robert and Deborah, 6 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on June 29, 2013 at 2:00 P.M at the Red Bluff Presbyterian Church, Red Bluff. Memorial contributions may be made to the Red Bluff Presbyterian Church, PO Box 246 Red Bluff, CA 96080, Hospice or a favorite .
Published in Daily News on June 25, 2013
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