Our hero, our father, James Milton Bird, passed to Heaven, as dawn broke over Newport Beach on Sept. 23, 2010. Dad, in a peaceful sleep, was embraced with tenderness as we said farewell, expressing our gratitude for his love, faithfulness, integrity, intelligence and sense of humor. Our mother, Winolee Bird, stood with us as she bravely said goodbye to her husband for the last time.
Dad was born in Wenatchee, Wash., to Leroy and Nellie Bird on Flag Day, June 14, 1917. He graduated from Washington State University with a degree in metallurgical engineering. Dad played basketball for the Cougars and was a member of Sigma Kai Fraternity.
In 1943 Dad contracted a mysterious virus and was admitted into the hospital where he was assigned a beautiful student nurse, Winolee Sauer, later to become his soul mate, the love of his life. The comedian he was, dad always liked to say, "Mom got me while I was flat on my back, defenseless." They were married July 16, 1944 ,and celebrated 66 wonderful years together this past July.
Dad’s first job after college was with Boeing in Seattle. After many successful years there, he was offered a position in Southern California at Butler Publications, a printer of commercial and military aircraft manuals. Eventually Dad bought Butler and as chief executive, led the company to international heights. The company became the largest user of IBM and Honeywell computers west of the Mississippi.
Retirement found Mom and Dad dividing time between Newport Beach and Palm Desert. Dad was an accomplished golfer, as well as an expert boater. He loved taking his Bertram 38 The Proud Bird, through the azure Pacific to Cherry Cove at Catalina Island.
Dad is survived by Winolee, his four children, Patricia Faull (Buzz), Christie Bernal (Rafael), James Bird (Kelly) and Stephen Bird (Deidre), eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Dad was a two-time cancer survivor. Twenty years ago he was given six months to live, but cutting edge medical treatment, prayer and dad’s amazing determination proved that prognosis wrong.
For those who would like to make a donation, please remember the American Cancer Society.
We love you Dad and wish you smooth seas as you navigate the wondrous waters of Heaven.