Friday, March 28, 2008

Don Baird 1936-2008

A very fine man died today, my first cousin Don Baird. Don had battled esophageal cancer. I have written about Don several times.

WSB has posted a couple of samples of Don's reports from the sixties.

Here is a brief report on Lester Maddox's refusal to allow blacks to eat at his restaurant.

Here Don reports on the infamous slaying of Lt. Col. Lemual Penn by members of the KKK.

The following is from the WSB History article about Don.
Don was one of the finest news reporters WSB had in the historic era of the 1960's. He is best remembered for his coverage of Lester Maddox - which launched him into national fame on the NBC Radio Network where he was a constant free-lance contributor. Don himself recalls some highlights: " Taping a sprinting Lester Maddox as he chased black people from his restaurant... describing a mob scene as whites beat blacks at a "patriotic rally" at Lakewood Park ... holding MLK's peace prize during an interview Covering his funeral on loan to NBC. "

Don had worked for the Atlanta Journal Constitution for several years before he joined WSB. From WSB he went on to work for the network reporting for NBC from their Cleveland Ohio bureau. The last decade or more of his career was spent with CNN Radio.

Don was a true gentleman. He was soft-spoken, thoughtful, and kind. He was endlessly entertaining and interesting with his stories of covering famous people and events, and his interest in the unusual in Georgia history. Besides writing news he also wrote songs and poems and had several book ideas he was kicking around. I hope that some of his unfinished writing will make its way into print, or, at least, cyberprint, so that some of his unique knowledge will be preserved.

I will truly miss this good man.

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