Former St. Mark's faculty member Les Baird died on Saturday, June 5. He was 74 years old. Les served on the St. Mark's faculty for 17 years, from 1998 to 2015. During that time, Les led the Drama Department with great skill and passion, and was instrumental in crafting the vision that resulted in the Black Box Theater. Les also chaired the Arts Department. The plays Les staged were thought-provoking and promoted impressive growth on the part of the cast. The annual spring one-act plays provided the opportunity for a wide range of students to gain experience acting, directing, and serving on the crew.
Les's 17 years at St. Mark's were incredibly fulfilling to him, allowing him to develop "the best possible relationships with faculty, staff, and students," said his longtime partner, Sue Lauther. Indeed, she commented, Les "just loved being at St. Mark's."
"Les is so incredibly warm, so incredibly welcoming," Head Chaplain Barbara Talcott said on the occasion of Les's retirement from St. Mark's in 2015. "He and Sue were some of the first people to reach out to Doug and me when we arrived on campus. For any new member of a community, there is usually a 'testing' period, when all of your new colleagues engage politely, but only at arm's length, while they wait to see what kind of person you actually are. And I have noticed that for chaplains, because of all the baggage that most people carry around about religion, that 'testing period' is usually at least twice as long. Apparently, clergy are just not to be trusted! Well, there was absolutely no "testing" period with Les—it was like he assumed I was a wonderful person and would do a wonderful job and would be a wonderful friend right from the minute he met me. So how could I not try to meet his expectations?! And this is the way Les is with every new faculty member. Colleagues unanimously describe him as having a 'beautiful spirit: generous, warm, and flexible.'"
In addition to Sue, Les is survived by his daughter Julia Neelima Baird, two step-sisters, Anne Whiteside and Katherine Baird, and his stepmother Barbara Baird. A memorial service in Belmont Chapel is planned for 2022.