KEENE - Jeanette E. Baird, 90, of Langdon Place, Keene, died March 15, 2013, at Langdon Place, her home since 2001. She was surrounded by her loving family soon after she entered hospice care.
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Jeanette was born at the Elliot Community Hospital in Keene, Nov. 4, 1922. She was the daughter of Charles H. Ballou and Mary Ethel Priest. Her mother died of complications from a ruptured appendix when Jeanette was just 2 in 1924. Her father was remarried to Eba M. Larson and they had a daughter, Barbara Goodell, who predeceased her in May 2006. They were raised on the family dairy farm in Swanzey. She moved to Keene and stayed with her stepmother's family on Martin Street in order to attend high school. This is when she was introduced to singing. She auditioned as the lead singer for a 13-piece orchestra and took the stage name of "Ginger Ballou." She also joined the Keene High School A Cappella Choir. She toured all over New England for both her orchestra and choir throughout her high school years, 1935 to 1940. The A Cappella Choir performed on New Hampshire Day at the World's Fair in 1939. She was a member of the Boston Evening Clinic from 1941 to 1943, and helped raise funds during the World War II effort. She lost several classmates and band members during this terrible war. She continued to entertain her classmates at their high school reunions until just a few short years ago. Jeanette's family helped them build a summer cottage on Swanzey Lake so they could be close to extended families, yet be asthma-free from all of the family farms. She spent every summer at the lake with always more than her four children and continued to help with the yearly haying, garden harvest and canning.
Jeanette spent many happy hours visiting her father's sister, Auntie Em and her husband, Unkie Bo (F. Ralph Whitney), at Hillcrest Farm, Richmond. It was there that she met her former husband, James L. Baird, whom she married in May, 1942. They had four children, Thomas, Jayne, Stephen and David. They settled on Oxford Street in Winchester, Mass., where they became active members in the community, especially the Boy and Girl Scouts, and the Unitarian Choir. She took a commercial art correspondence course in the early years. She joined the Art Guild of Winchester, Mass., and displayed many of her watercolor paintings in their art shows. She was on a lifelong quest for knowledge, and PBS was her ongoing source for learning and sharing by creating multi-media lending libraries because she was so inspired, especially the Universe and Civil War series. She was a long-term member of the Shakespeare Club and an avid reader. She divorced in 1983 and moved to her former home on Park Avenue. Jeanette became an active member of the Jenks Senior Center where she served as their newsletter editor for a few years, sang with a visiting chorus, and became Rainbow the Clown. She was a short-term emergency shelter for teens at risk when she was in her late 60s and fostered more than 16 teens. She also became a Friend of the Winchester Hospital, serving over 50 hours. She became a member of the Beyond War movement in 1986 and visited the former Soviet Union on a cultural peace mission. She also served on the Woburn, Mass., Council on Aging. She was active with the Ageless Follies of the Winchester High School, and was a visiting Foster Grandparent at various elementary schools.
Jeanette sold her two-family home in 2001 and moved to Langdon Place of Keene, to be very near her eldest son, Tom and Ann Baird. She sang in the Langdon choir and was a strong supporter of the activities department, volunteering and donating items of need, especially their theater equipment. She was adamant about higher education for all of her grandkids so she established book funds for them throughout their educational endeavors and has even begun funds for her new great-grandchildren. She supported the building fund of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in memory of both F. Ralph and Emily B. Whitney, and the Jeanette E. Ballou-Baird Family. She was also a passionate supporter of her son, Stephen Baird's, folk music performances and arts environmental work of the Community Arts Advocates. She was active with the local League of Women Voters and a strong supporter of the Republican Party.
We want to thank all of Jeanette's caretakers at Langdon Place of Keene and the Cheshire Hospital who served her well these many years.
Jeanette is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren: Tom and Ann Baird of Keene, his son Andrew Baird of Keene, and their children, Thomas Baird and husband Bob of Holyoke, Mass., and daughter, Eva, 3, and their daughter, Emily Baird and her husband Steve Nardello, of Stoddard, and daughter, Alexis, 2, and new baby due May 15; Jayne Baird-Gilmore of Raymond, her children Lisa J. Gilmore and husband Daniel Houle of Deerfield, his three children, Ben, 22, Emily, 20, and Alex, 18, and their daughter, Laura, 9, and Brian Gilmore and fiancé Cynthia Moh of Arlington, Va./Washington D.C.; Stephen Baird of Jamaica Plain, Mass.; and David Baird, his three children, Katie Baird and her two boys, Zachery Fucci, 6 , and Jaccob Fucci, 5, Margaret Baird and Mathew Baird, all of Putnam, Conn. Tragically, she was predeceased by Tom and Ann Baird's infant son, Daniel, in 1984.
services: A memorial service will be held for Jeanette on Sunday, May 26, 2013, 10:30 a.m. at Fletcher Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 33 Marlboro St., Keene. Burial will follow at the Mountain View Cemetery in Swanzey.
In lieu of flowers, please show your support for the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, NMAI, P.O. Box 23473, Washington D.C. 20026-3473, (http://nmai.si.edu/support/giving/donation, 800 242-6624); Community Arts Advocates, Inc., P.O. Box 300112, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030, (www.CommunityArtsAdvocates.org, 617 522-3457); your local PBS, which was her ongoing source for knowledge, learning and sharing. Donations can also be made to the Langdon Place of Keene's Activities Department, 136A Arch St., Keene, 03431, (357-3902).
Published in Union Leader on May 21, 2013