The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


April 2, 2014

William John Franklin Bird, M.D.

URBANA, Mo. — 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 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 moments 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, Missouri 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 a 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. on Thursday, March 20, at Memorial Park Cemetery in Oklahoma City.

Memorials may be made by donations to Vernon County People for Pets, Inc., P.O. Box 383, Nevada, MO 64772.

Text Only
  • Pendergraft, Carolyn Carolyn B. Pendergraft

    Carolyn Rial Pendergraft, age 78, of Joplin, passed away on Tuesday, July 24, 2014, at Joplin Health and Rehabilitation with family at her side.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • Cindy Showers

    Cindy Showers lost her battle with cancer July 14, 2014, at 10:08 a.m. at the home she shared with her sister. Her family surrounded her with love. Her attitude since she was diagnosed was one of strength and calmness. Her soul was caring and giving.

    July 31, 2014

  • Jim Gilliam

    Jan. 28, 1937 - July 30, 2011

    July 30, 2014

  • Etta Toney Etta Toney

    Etta Ionie Toney, age 87, formerly of Joplin, passed away at 9:05 a.m. Saturday, July 26, 2014, at Choctaw Memorial Hospital, Hugo, Okla.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Military Jay Samuel Rodney

    Jay Samuel Rodney, 91, died Saturday, July 26, 2014.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Burgis Taber Burgis Taber

    Burgis Maynard Taber, 94, born March 14, 1920, entered Glory on July 27, 2014.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Elizabeth A. Ford Elizabeth Ann Ford

    Elizabeth Ann Ford, age 59, of Joplin, passed away on Sunday, July 27, 2014, at her home, following an illness.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Don Pargen

    Donald Ray Pargen, 76, of Joplin, Mo., died at the Spring River Christian Village, Saturday morning, July 26, 2014.

    July 29, 2014

  • Joe A. Turney Joe A. Turney

    Joe A Turney passed away July 27, 2014, following a short illness.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Darrell "Doc" Carnagey Darrell L. "Doc" Carnagey

    Doc  Carnagey, age 47, of Carl Junction, Mo., passed away Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos