Catherine Anne Kelly BAIRD
Catherine Kelly Baird, 66, passed away peacefully on March 24 surrounded by her loving family and friends in Sacramento. Although the pain and heartbreak of losing this incredible woman seems almost unbearable, the knowledge of the wonderful life she led will hopefully bring peace to the many of us who loved her so deeply. It was clear at an early age that Catherine was truly gifted. A brilliant student leader, athlete and musician, she delivered her eighth grade graduation speech. Her real challenge began about six months later. A few months into her freshman year of high school, over night, she developed a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis. She was hospitalized for more than a year. She was so weak she almost died. Catherine had too many surgeries to count, and she was only fourteen. With courage and grace, she refused to give up. After two years at home-study, she attended high school, and graduated with her class in 1967. An amazing story in itself, but she was just getting started. She attended Cerritos Junior College and Pepperdine University. It was during this time that she met her soulmate and the love of her life, Monty Baird. It was a marriage made in heaven; they were madly in love. She was so happy. Catherine and Monty moved from Southern to Northern California, attending Sonoma State College. They received their B.A.'s in Social Work. In the summer of 1975, they moved to Sacramento where Catherine's journey became almost magical, as she attained goals she had never dared imagine. In the early 1980's Catherine began her career at the California Department of Rehabilitation as a student intern in the 504 Office while attending California State University Sacramento, obtaining her Masters in Social Work. She went on to became the Executive Director of the California Govenor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities at the Employment Development Department. Catherine provided the leadership and staff to initiate the Media Access Office in Hollywood to create opportunities for people with disabilities in the media and entertainment industries, and the Windmills Attitudinal Training aimed at educating and changing attitudes about people with disabilities, especially targeting employers in hiring capacities. While there, she also served as Chair of the National Association of Governors Committees. In 1992 Catherine cofounded the California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities (YLF). It became a model replicated in over 30 states, providing generations of youth with disabilities the tools and independent living skills to advocate on behalf at themselves as they transition from high school to higher education and employment. By living her life with dignity and self-assurance, she was a role model to the youth she served, and to all of us. Catherine was currently serving on the Sacramento Paratransit board, and working for Friends, Inc. in fund raising. Always busy, she received numerous recognitions over the years. Catherine hosted an annual "Peace party;" it was always a joyous occasion. She shined when surrounded by family and friends. She created a sanctuary in her home and backyard, filled with whimsical art, a vegetable garden, fruit trees, birdfeeders, and a swimming pool used by folks of all ages and abilities. Laughter rang throughout the summer. When you came to Catherine's house, you were warmly welcomed. Rest in peace, sweet sister. Catherine was preceded in death by her parents, Elbert and Carmella Kelly, and her beloved husband Monty. She is survived by her brothers, Bill Kelly and Brian Trainor, and sisters-in-law Paula and Elizabeth, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews and the 1400 children she mentored and loved. A gathering to honor her life will be held April 23 at 2:00pm at The Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 6151 H. Street in Sacramento. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the "Catherine Kelly Baird Youth Leadership Forum Endowment Fund." They can be made at through PayPal or by credit card, or by check addressed to: Denise Boshers, Treasurer Friends, Inc. 9705 Swansboro Way Bakersfield, CA 93314
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Published by The Sacramento Bee on Apr. 2, 2016.
Memorial Gathering
The Scottish Rite Masonic Center
6151 H. Street, Sacramento, CA
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14 Entries
Catherine was a wonderful woman with a great and loving spirit. I will always treasure her memory.
With love and deep respect,
Robert David Hall
Robert David Hall
April 22, 2016
I love you Catherine
My world, my heart, wasn't ready to lose you. I still mourn the loss of a true friend. We (Liam and myself) greatly miss you. I listen to your voice mail to hear your voice when I need it. You took me in and were my second mother. How I loved you so and still do. Always. Your hugs, smile, support, advice, positivity, love you gave towards me-- unforgettable. I love you CKB. Watch down on us always.
Jillian Whitcomb
April 18, 2016
As special as she was to all, she had a wonderful way of making you feel special to her as well.
Such great memories of wonderful gatherings with friends and that beautiful smile of joy on her face.
RIP Catherine, you've left quite a imprint ❤
Stacey Fleming
April 18, 2016
Sacramento will never be the same tome with Catherine gone.
To say we'll miss her would be an understatement.
Chuck Fleming
April 18, 2016
We love you with all our hearts Catherine. You were a wonderful friend and we will never forget you. Bob and Ilene, The Wagwomans
Robert Wagoner
April 18, 2016
A very sad loss to the disability community and all who knew and loved her. she was a wonderful 'boss' and cherished friend.
Doug Gordy
April 7, 2016
She was a big inspiration in my life trew ylf alway a pleasure talking with her i remember one day i went to her houses she made sure i did not jump in her pool because of my being visal inpaired
ismael maldonado
April 6, 2016
A beautiful friend to all. She was very loving towards her Paratransit Inc. family and will be missed by all of us.
Mary Steinert
April 4, 2016
I am very glad I had the chance to get to know Catherine through the Paratransit Board. She was always kind, generous, and respectful to all and I feel fortunate I got the chance to work with her and get to know her through our board. Peaceful and healing thoughts to her loved ones. She was a special lady :)
Donna Foland
April 4, 2016
A true advocate and wonderful spirit who will sincerely be missed. We can all only hope to leave a legacy half as full. Rest in piece dear, dear friend.
Jacquelyn (Jackie) Tatum
April 3, 2016
It was such a pleasure to know you and your wonderful kindness. You will be honored for your life in many rewarding ways for many of us.
Vicki and Jihn Stewart
April 3, 2016
My deepest condolences to Catherine's family. She was an inspiration to all who had the opportunity to know her. Rest in Peace!
Kathy Sachen
April 3, 2016
You will forever be a very special memory in my heart. I will miss you forever. Thank you for loving my son, Ryan Nagle, as much as I do.
Paulette Nagle
April 3, 2016
I want to express my sincere sympathies to Catherine's family and friends.

I had the opportunity to work with Catherine at the Employment Development Department. She was an incredible person who touched the lives of thousands of youth, disabled youth and the disabled throughout California and the Nation. She was a mentor who hugely shaped the lives and employment opportunities for the disabled. She has left us with fond memories; we loved her spirit and respected the way she lived her life with dignity. There can be no doubt that Catherine served our community well. I wish we could all say that we lived our lives providing such community service.

I enjoyed her company on this journey of life and Catherine will be greatly missed by many.

With sincere sympathy,
Haven Bays
April 2, 2016
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