Kaye Bird. Submitted photo
Kaye Bird. Submitted photo

Kaye Bird (born Mariel Kaye Olson), age 69, of Spring Valley, died December 12, 2016 in Rochester, MN, after a courageous battle with leukemia.

Kaye was born October 11, 1947 in Amery, WI to Edith and Edhart Olson. She was raised on a farm near Clear Lake, Wisconsin with her three siblings, Don, Nina, and Kathy.

In August of 1968, she married Gary Bird of Boyceville, Wisconsin. Their marriage was blessed with three children, Kelly Dianne in 1969, Christopher John in 1972, and Anna Marie in 1978. In the early 1970s, Gary and Kaye settled in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where they lived for 37 years.

In late 1988, Kaye decided to pursue a career in teaching. She taught eighth grade English and ran the journalism program at Indiana Area Junior High School in Indiana, Pennsylvania, winning the prestigious Pennsylvania Student Press Association Award in 2007. 

Kaye taught English for 19 years before retiring and moving back to her home state of Wisconsin, settling with her husband near Spring Valley on a large property where Kaye could nurture her many joys: gardening, flowers, walks in the woods with her beloved dog Dharma, and feeding and watching the birds. Kaye also had four beautiful grandchildren who were the light of her life.

Kaye loved to write. Shortly after Kaye and Gary moved back to Wisconsin, she began working for the Spring Valley Sun-Argus and the Woodville Leader where she wrote hundreds of articles as well as her “Bird's Eye View” column. In 2011, she published a book of her columns, Bird’s Eye View: A Lighthearted Look at Life. Her writing was mostly autobiographical and she honored many of her family, friends and colleagues through her gift.

Kaye loved having guests at the house and often hosted her grown children, grandchildren, and other relatives for summers and holidays. These occasions were always filled with love and laughter.

Kaye also loved to travel with her family and husband. Together, they visited cities all over the United States in addition to more exotic locales such as Germany, France, Portugal, Norway, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Japan, and England. Kaye made friends wherever she went. She was effervescent and her spirit and kindness were contagious, as was her laughter. Kaye nurtured her relationships over years and miles and had many friends all over the country and the globe.

Kaye was preceded in death by her parents, Edith and Edhart Olson, her parents- in-law, Anna and Fred Bird, her brother Don Olson, brother-in-law Melvin Bird, sister-in-law Esther Bird, and grandson Garrison Carswell.

Kaye leaves behind her husband of 48 years, Gary; two sisters: Nina (Keith) Larson of Spring Valley, and Kathy (Bill) Schmidt of Buffalo, Minnesota; brothers-in-law: Bill (Mary Lu) of Menomonie, Bob (Lynda) Bird of Boyceville, Keith (Dorothy) Bird of Spartanburg, SC, and Dale (Faye) Bird of Boyceville; three children: Kelly Carswell (Dylan Scholinski) of Evergreen, CO; Christopher Bird of Cedar Rapids, IA; Anna (David) Deitsch of Cleveland, OH; grandchildren Anna Rose and William Carswell; and Anthony and Jack Deitsch. Kaye had scores of cousins, nieces, and nephews, most of whom reside in and around her home in Spring Valley.

It would be impossible to list all of Kaye’s beloved friends, but suffice it to say that they each knew and understood how important they were to her.

Kaye always made a point to express her deep understanding and appreciation for every person she met. She was one of a kind, a visionary, a teacher, a writer, a wife, sister, mother, grandmother, and a friend. Words cannot come close to expressing how much she will be missed.

A visitation for Kaye will be held at St John’s Lutheran Church in Spring Valley, Wisconsin on Tuesday, December 20 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. A celebration of life service will be held, also at St. John’s, on Wednesday, December 21 at 11:00 a.m. A separate service will take place in Pennsylvania at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made in Kaye’s honor to support journalism education. Please visit gofundme.com/kayebirdjournalismfund to make a donation.