William John Franklin Bird, M.D.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dr. William John Franklin Bird, 81, of Urbana, Mo., died suddenly at home on Monday, March 17, 2014. It was a peaceful death in his favorite chair, in the home he loved, with his loving wife, Julie, and faithful dog, Abby, nearby. He is also survived by his children, Elizabeth Hooker (Brent), Amanda Bird (Jon), Ashley Bird (Tony), William Bird (Melisa), Bryan Bird, Victoria Olvera (Michael), Garrett Bird, Chandler Bird, and Sevren Bird; and his six grandchildren Libbie, Nathan, Montana, Parker, Liliana and Danica.

Dr. Bird was born in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Dec. 11, 1932, to John Franklin Bird, a Westpoint graduate who later rose to the rank of Brigadier General and Elizabeth Sherman Bird, an Oklahoma City socialite and artist. As an only child and only grandchild, Dr. Bird had an idyllic childhood full of happiness. He was doted upon by his grandparents, parents and two aunts. He lost his beloved Uncle Bill Smoots (who lovingly called him "Wildman") in the Battle of Biak Island in the Pacific during World War II.

Dr. Bird was spectacularly successful in countless ways and was a true genius -- skilled in medicine, engineering, mathematics, computer science, astronomy, and literature. He could speak knowledgeably on nearly any subject and loved reciting Rudyard Kipling, Omar Khayyam and Shakespeare. He attended Sidwell Friends High School in Washington, D.C., where he was a football star honored as a member of the Touchdown Club of Washington, D.C., and track star setting records in the long jump and 440 yard dash in the 1950s which would still win state-level competitions today. He was offered admission to the United States Military Academy at Westpoint, the United States Naval Academy, Yale and nearly every other Ivy League college upon graduation from high school, but chose to attend Stanford University where he earned a bachelor's degree in history. He then attended the University of Oklahoma where he earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After graduation, Dr. Bird served in the United States Army stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., where he was as an instructor at the guided missile school. He was honorably discharged and held the rank of 1st Lieutenant. Dr. Bird then worked as an engineer for Westinghouse for a couple of years before finding his calling and attending Medical School at the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Bird earned his medical doctor degree in 1966, and was one of the pioneers of kidney transplantation in Missouri in the 1970s. He was one of those special doctors who could set patients at ease at a moment's notice with his unparalleled bedside manner. He was beloved by his patients and their families and spent the best years of his life easing the pain and suffering of his fellow man.

Dr. Bird's kindness and caring for his patients carried over into his friendships and dealings with all people. He was generous to a fault. In the late 1970s, when the Connor Hotel in Joplin, Mo., was being prepared for implosion, a portion of the building collapsed unexpectedly, trapping three workers deep inside. Dr. Bird risked his own life by crawling down into the rubble to try to save one of the seriously injured victims.

Dr. Bird was a free spirit who grabbed life by the horns and squeezed it for all it was worth. He loved deeply, gave willingly and reveled in the joy of being alive. He married the true love of his life, Julie Bird, on Nov. 7, 2007. She survives of the home. He will be sorely missed as one of the true, and few, originals in life.

Graveside services were 1 p.m., Thursday, March 20, at Memorial Park Cemetery in Oklahoma City, Okla. Memorials may be made by donations to Vernon County People for Pets, Inc., P.O. Box 383, Nevada, MO. 64772.