Lansing bureau chief, Federated Publications
Willard M.J. Baird was born in 1916 in Carsonville and earned a degree in journalism and education at Michigan State University, an M.A. in communications in 1981 and a Ph.D. in community history in 1983, both from Pacific Western University.
He is widely recognized as an outstanding reporter and analyst of Michigan governmental affairs by readers, politicians and co-workers. Baird’s 42-year career in Michigan journalism included nearly 27 years as a Capitol correspondent for Federated Newspapers, now Gannett. In addition to his distinguished career in Lansing he worked for thePort Huron Times Herald, the Associated Press and the Grand Rapids Herald.
Active in many press organizations, he was the first president of the Michigan Capitol Correspondents Association and is a 34-year member of Sigma Delta Chi. Baird has received more than 25 commendations, citations, resolutions and awards. His popular series, “This is Our Michigan,” was later published in book form. When he retired in 1974, Gov. William G. Milliken issued a declaration proclaiming “Willard Baird Day” in Michigan to recognize Baird’s outstanding contributions to the state and to the public.
To honor him, a large committee of state employees, politicians, public officials and colleagues organized a party and issued the following statement: “The people, through the democratic process, make the ultimate decisions about the future of government and the media is [sic] a primary source of information influencing their attitudes and decisions.” Bill Baird’s efforts have not only added stature to his profession, they have made an immeasurable contribution to the process of government itself.