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James Wallace Baird, Ph.D.

  • On March 12, 2021

It is impossible to say enough good things about Jim Baird, who passed from this life at age 74 at home and in the company of his family on March 9, 2021. He is survived by his wife Harriet (Jacobsen), two sons, David and Michael (Allison Fitz), and two sisters, Mary (Ed Hunka) and Barbara.

Jim was the son of Martha Schreiner and William E. Baird, and a lifelong resident of Mt. Lebanon, where his earliest friends nicknamed him Wally. Throughout his life he and Harriet kept many strong friendships alive, by doing things like opening their home on Friday nights to play pool, listen to great music, watch movies and enjoy each other’s company.

Jim’s education took him from Mt. Lebanon High School — proud class of ‘64 — to Denison and Duquesne Universities, and culminated in a Ph.D. from University of Pittsburgh in 1985. He also served in the US Army Reserve as a Military Policeman, rated as a sharpshooter.

His professional career as a Clinical Psychologist ended just two weeks ago, and included 35 years at Mayview State Hospital, and 26 years at Associates in Clinical Psychiatry. Jim also served as a Gerontology-Neuropsychological consultant at St. Margaret Hospital. During his career he earned the gratitude of many patients for his compassion, understanding and wise guidance.

He had an encyclopedic knowledge of matters relating to health and fitness and was the go-to person for all of us on the topics of diet, medicine and exercise. His dedication to fitness was legendary. Beginning in 1974, he meditated daily.

Jim loved to bicycle, logging up to 2,000 miles a year on local trails and on annual trips which became known as Downhill Tours of America. No route was too difficult or hill too steep for him to tackle. He met each obstacle with strength and grace, and relished the challenge and camaraderie bicycling with friends offered.
During their 49 loving years together, Jim and Harriet enjoyed travel, both together and with friends. They took numerous cruises, notably to Europe and most recently on the Rhine. The common thread in Jim’s life, which ran through his relationships with family, patients and friends, was his unique and genuine concern for others. He sought to understand our lives, learn our problems as well as our hopes, and offer encouragement. He was rarely critical. The cancer which took him was swift and and caught many unawares. None of us who knew him will be able to replace him in our lives.

A Gathering will be held on Saturday, March 20, 2021 from noon to four P.M. at Pittsburgh Crematorium and Funeral Care, 3287 Washington Rd., McMurray, PA. Due to Covid restrictions, only 25 people at a time will be admitted and masks are required. Please view and sign the family’s guest book at http://www.pittsburghcremation.com/ and post your favorite Wally-Jim-Dr.-Baird story! A private memorial will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center or the American Cancer Society.

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Amanda Dickens
Dr. Baird was my beloved therapist for 11 years. There is no doubt, he saved my life & well being countless times. He was a breath of fresh air when I needed it, & I have a filing cabinet full of the tools he would give me. It’s my go to cabinet, a safety net that he provided that I will keep for a lifetime. I will forever be grateful for his help, encouragement, & compassion. My deepest condolences to his family. He was a hero. ♥️
Aileen Lampman
I met Jim through Harriet. What a wonderful man, husband and father! For the past eight years or so, I got to know Jim as he purchased jewelry from me every Christmas for Harriet. Each year we had our annual "visit" as he picked out something special for his beloved wife. The past few times we had fun trying to disguise the package so she didn't think she was getting jewelry - again! I'll miss those visits with him. May Jim's kindness and thoughtfulness inspire us all to be more like him. My condolences to all who loved him.
Mark Herron
To the family of Dr Baird, I was a patient of Dr. Baird’s for 9 years and was so blessed to have him as my therapist and had the good fortune to meet with him at least monthly. I was in terrible condition when we met and he took me from being suicidal to still functioning today. Dr. Baird was such a wonderful man and friend and as all of you, I will miss him tremendously. Our hearts and prayers are with you. Thank you for sharing your wonderful husband and father with us.......... Mark Herron
Barb Fitz
It’s so wonderful when friends become family. We have been so fortunate to have had so many great times with all the Bairds. The pandemic created such gaps in people’s lives and visiting from far way almost impossible. It broke our hearts to hear about the struggles that Jim was going through and not be there to lend a hand. Being the away people is very hard. We so admire Jim for so many wonderful attributes and the fight he put up this year to beat this disease was at the top of the list. Our love to Harriet for her steadfast devotion and care, Michael and Allie, David,Barb,Mary, and his legions of friends and fans. They all will live on through Jim. Love from all the Fitzes.
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