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April 14, 2017IM -
by Edward J. Zebrowski, Secretary of Local 140 (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
It was my pleasure recently to spend some time talking with Bobby Baird about his musical career—a career that has spanned most of eight decades. Baird began playing trumpet at a very early age. He played his first solo at the age of five for his grandfather and never stopped.
Baird joined Local 140 (Wilkes-Barre, PA) September 30, 1944. He had to be granted a special exemption from the minimum age requirement in effect at the time, since he was only 14 years old!
On September 30, 2017, Baird will achieve the enviable record of having been a member of Local 140 for 73 consecutive years. To the best of my knowledge, no other member has ever achieved that milestone. We at Local 140 are honored to have had Baird as a member all these years.
When he was 18, Baird achieved another milestone: he became the youngest member of the United States Navy Band to be chosen as concert trumpet soloist. It was a position he went on to hold with many bands, including several local bands, such as the Stegmaier Gold Medal Band, during its heyday.
During his stint with the Navy Band, they toured all 48 contiguous states and Canada. It is worth mentioning that Baird, who led his own Dixieland Jazz Band for many years, can still blow the doors off trumpeters who are half his age. Baird still performs actively, and says he will continue to do so as long as he has the breath to blow through that piece of brass.
On a more personal note, Bobby Baird and his wife, Pat, recently celebrated their 63rd anniversary. Congratulations to them both!
When you talk with Baird, you quickly become aware that he is a very humble and modest man. He provided a number of newspaper articles to use as background information, but he also made it very clear that he was more interested in having people know that he has been a trumpeter for eight decades and a union member for 73 years. He wasn’t interested in having me write about all his accomplishments—performing for several presidents, being honored recently with a special tribute by the Back Mountain Chamber, playing in a Grammy-winning band, or the many other well-deserved accolades and awards he has received.
Baird has a great sense of humor. During a recent conversation, he asked me how old I was and I told him. He says, “Heck, you’re just a kid!” For that, Bobby, you have my profound thanks. It’s been a long, long time since anybody said that to me!
All of us at Local 140 hope Bobby Baird will be around sharing his wonderful music with us for many more years.