Our dear mother and grandmother, Janice D. (Jan) Baird, passed away peacefully at home on November 20, 2022, at the age of 86. She was the daughter of Edward L. and Dolores M. Sampson, who preceded her in death, as did her older brother, Richard E. Sampson of West Milford, New Jersey. Those left to cherish her memory include daughters Bonni Baird (Bob Kochuk) of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Becki Baird (Pye Magiera) of Columbia, Missouri; granddaughter Jessica Baird (Brian Ronchetto) of Columbia, Missouri, great-granddaughter Isabella, as well as cousins, nieces, nephews, sister-in-law, and friends.
Janice was born and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She often recounted fond memories of time spent with her brother and friends at her childhood home where the family had pet birds and dogs, including a talking Mynah Bird that her mother taught to wake her and her brother for school each morning. While growing up she took piano lessons and was active at Bethany Lutheran Church. Janice attended Jennings High School, where she excelled in academics, particularly math and science, enjoyed home economics classes, pitched for the girls’ softball team, and participated on the girl’s fencing team. She graduated in 1954 with a full scholarship to attend Valparaiso University in Indiana, where she planned to put her love for math and science and her caring heart to work towards a nursing degree. However, after a semester away, she became homesick and returned to St. Louis where she was able to apply her math skills to an accounting job at a prominent theater in University City. It was through a friend at this job that she met her former husband, Harry L. (Bob) Baird, who preceded her in death.
After marriage, Janice continued to work at the theater, enjoyed bowling, time spent with friends and family playing cards, showing the family’s dogs, and attending St. Louis Cardinals baseball games. After her children came along the family relocated to North County in St. Louis, during which time Janice was a busy home-maker and active in her children’s school through PTA and as a room mother. When her daughters joined Camp Fire Girls she became a group leader, hosting parties and outings, driving them to activities, and ensuring that those peanut brittle sales went well! When she wasn’t supporting her daughters’ activities, Janice enjoyed league bowling, training the family dog, cooking, and sewing. She also taught Sunday School at Salem Lutheran Church.
When the family moved to Williamsburg, Missouri, Janice quickly adapted to this new, rural setting, making friends with neighbors, learning to garden and can vegetables, and becoming involved in the local 4-H with her children. Janice moved with her daughters to Fulton, Missouri after her divorce, where she was hired as the Office Manager for the Buildings and Grounds Department at Westminster College. Though she worked full-time, Janice was a devoted parent; participating in PTA, school-groups and activities, and never missing her daughter’s tennis matches or an opportunity to see her girls perform with the high school marching band or sing in the school chorus. Her granddaughter Jessica held a special place in her heart so she always made time to attend her school activities, grandparent’s events, and sporting events. She hosted weekend sleepovers, provided transportation, a listening ear, and of course, plenty of hugs.
Valuing her faith, Janice was an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fulton, where she volunteered as the church’s accountant, taught Sunday School, and attended the women’s Bible study group. She also enjoyed bowling in the Fulton league. Despite being so busy, she still found time to start a second job through Robertson Dining Hall at Westminster College. When her daughters were old enough, Janice encouraged them to join her working at catering events, using this as extra time the family could spend together while also demonstrating her strong work ethic.
Janice worked for Westminster College for over 8 years before taking a job with the Missouri State Division of Probation and Parole in Fulton. She then went on to work for several State agencies including the Department of Special Health Care Needs, and the Department of Child Support Enforcement, where she became an Enforcement Officer before retiring in 2001. After retiring, Janice moved to Columbia, Missouri to be closer to family. She then joined Campus Lutheran Church and became involved in the women’s Bible study group. She also enjoyed participating in activities with Services for Independent Living (SIL) in Columbia, including the women’s group, shopping trips, and other outings. She would often talk about how SIL helped keep her independent.
Janice will be missed for her kind heart, easy smile, quick laugh, and giving nature. She lived by the Golden Rule and was one of the kindest people you would ever meet. While she never minded helping a friend, Janice was also concerned about the well-being of others beyond those who were close to her and would happily help just about anyone going through a rough patch. She passed on these values to her family and loved ones through her words and deeds. Her daughters and granddaughter know that much of their success is due in part to the support, influence, and love they received from her, and they hope to continue her legacy.
A celebration of Janice’s life will be held at Campus Lutheran Church, 304 South College Ave., Columbia, MO 65201 on Saturday, March 11, 2023, at 11am. The family will receive visitors starting at 10am. Interment will be held at New Bethlehem Cemetery, 9650 Bellefontaine Rd., St. Louis, MO 63137 on Monday, March 13, 2023, at 1:30pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of Janice Baird to Services for Independent Living in Columbia, MO (https://www.silcolumbia.org) or to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital (https://www.stjude.org)
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