Nancy Chappelear Baird


Philanthropist, Historian, Editor, Naval Architect

November 25, 1918 - November 3, 2002

Nancy Chappelear Baird, daughter of the late George Warren Chappelear and Nannie Coles Binford, died early Sunday morning, November 3, 2002, of heart failure. One of the earliest women accepted into the Virginia Polytechnic Institute's School of Architecture, she attended one year before graduating from Madison College in 1939, majoring in mathematics with art history and English minors.

During World War II, she worked as a civilian naval architect at the Norfolk, VA Naval Shipyard. She became an analyst for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory, and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. She taught several years in Virginia public schools.

After retiring, Mrs. Baird edited numerous books, including her great aunt's civil war diaries, JOURNALS OF AMANDA T. EDMONDS, LASS OF THE MOSBY CONFEDERACY, 1859-1867. She was a well-known Virginia historian and genealogist, serving as a consultant to the A&E television network's series, "The Civil War." Her survey of gravesites in Fauquier County is the most extensive collection of its kind, and she appeared with Willard Scott of the "Today" show to give a "quick but very detailed history" of Paris, Virginia. She served for many years on the Virginia State Mental Health Association Board. Mrs. Baird was perhaps best known as a philanthropist and was a major donor to the Virginia

Historical Society, the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community and numerous civic and religious organizations throughout the state. Her great love, however, was the suppport and education of young people, and she founded scholarships and supported the publication of books and teaching materials at several institutions including Shenandoah University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and James Madison University. She and her husband, Alvin Baird, made the single largest private contribution to James Madison University to fund the Alvin Baird, Jr., Attention and Learning Disabilities Center at JMU. In 1999 the Bairds were named "Outstanding Individual Philanthropists" for the Shenandoah Valley for their efforts.

She is survived by her husband of 36 years, Alvin Baird, VMRC, Harrisonburg; her sister, Georgina Milliken of Gloucester, VA; her nephew, William Milliken of Highpoint, NC; her niece, Nancy McAvoy of Princeton, NJ; two great-nieces; a great-nephew; her dearest friend, Thelma Neubauer of Forest Hill, MD, and her goddaughter, Diane Curling of Reston.

Services will be held Friday, November 8, 2002 at 2 p.m. at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Delaplane, VA. Interment will follow immediately afterwards at the church cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations may be made to either the Fauquier County Habitat for Humanity, P.O. Box 3189, Warrenton, VA 20188 or the Central Valley Habitat for Humanity, 205 Dry River Road, Bridgewater, VA 22812. The LINDSEY HARRISONBURG FUNERAL HOME is handling arrangements.

Funeral Home

Lindsey Funeral Homes
473 South Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 228013608
(540) 434-7318

Published in The Washington Post on Nov. 8, 2002