Law Librarianship Program - University of Washington
Bird, Viola A.
A. BIRD Viola died June 7, 2007, on her 102nd birthday. Born Viola Avis
Foster in Fall River, Wisconsin, she grew up in Long Beach, California. She
returned to Wisconsin to attend and graduate from Lawrence College in
Appleton, becoming the first member of her family to receive a college
degree. While there she met her future husband, Winfred W. Bird, to whom she
was married for forty-seven years, until Win's death in 1976. The young
couple resided in Seattle where Win was a faculty member of the Speech
Department at the University of Washington. When Win enlisted in the Army
Air Corps during World War II, Viola worked outside the home and volunteered
more than 1000 hours with the Aircraft Warning Service. Following the war,
she completed the law degree she had started twenty- three years earlier
receiving her Juris Doctor from the University of Washington in 1950. Rather
than practice law, she went on to earn a Master of Law Librarianship, which
led to her 20-year career as the Assistant Law Librarian at the U. of W.
working with her mentor and friend Marian Gallagher. In return she mentored
countless young people, instilling in them a confidence and leadership
ethic, which was mentioned over and over by guests at her 100th birthday
celebration. In 1971 she was elected President of the American Association
of Law Librarians. She retired from the U.of W. in 1973 to begin a new
career as the founding law librarian for Preston Thorgrimson Holman & Ellis.
At the age of 81 she tried to retire again but after just one day, found
herself teaching in the Highline Community College Adult Literacy Program.
There she enjoyed a new group of friends from all over the world. At this
time she was living at Wesley Terrace in Des Moines. During these later
years she pursued her computer skills and at her death, willed her computer
to the young daughter of one of her dear Mexican students, again mentoring
the next generation. During her lifetime she traveled extensively, learning
about and enjoying the cultures and people of six continents. Viola was a
member of the University Temple United Methodist Church for 78 years and 61
years ago became a charter member of chapter CY of PEO. She did not want a
memorial service feeling that her 100th birthday party, attended by friends
from as far away as Singapore, was a fitting celebration of her life. She
donated her remains to the University of Washington Medical School with
which she had participated in medical studies for 30 years. Viola is
survived by her daughter, Betsey Downing, grandchildren, Kathie Price, Patti
Campbell, Chris Turman, Linda Soukup and 9 great grandchildren. Her
daughter, Marilyn Valentine preceded her in death, in December 2006.
Memorial contributions in her name can be made to Bridges to Prosperity a
volunteer based charity that seeks to empower poor African, Asian, and South
American rural communities through footbridge building thereby advancing
access to schools, jobs, clinics and markets. (www.bridgestoprosperity.org).
Published in print on 6/24/2007 in the Seattle Times and Seattle P-I.
See the memory book prepared by the
Gallagher Law Library Staff on the occasion of Mrs. Bird's 100th birthday in