In Memory: David Laird

Dear Laurentian Friends:

With all the lasting remembrances of a good friend, I report the death on September 13 of David B. Laird, Class of 1965, Trustee Emeritus. David served on the Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2013, and did so with dependable wisdom and caring commitment. Board members and delegates will recall in recent years his touchstone presence as an “elder” at meetings, always joined by his cross-border compadre, David Torrey ’53.

A native of Herkimer, New York, David completed a double major in government and history and continued at St. Lawrence to earn his master’s degree in education. As an undergraduate, he wrote for the Hill News, volunteered for the Community Development Corps and Model UN, served on the RA staff, and played on the baseball team. Mary Bijur ’65, Trustee Emerita, recalls “Our friendship began in Harry Reiff’s government class. What we each learned there influenced both our lives, though in different ways. It also built a foundation for a lasting friendship.”

At St. Lawrence, David met his wife Joanne, who was beginning her professional career with the Student Life staff. After graduation, David began his life’s work in higher education administration, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.  He held various appointments at the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board, St. Paul’s Springsted, Carleton College, and the Minnesota Private College Council, each time, building up his reputation and influence in national higher education policy-making.

A passionate advocate for access to higher education, David led the College Possible Board of Directors and was a pioneer in expanding opportunities for cultural, educational and economic exchanges with China.

David always voted “aye” to requests made by St. Lawrence for his volunteer expertise in career services, academic advising, admissions, fundraising, student life, and as a member of the Alumni Council.  A raconteur extraordinaire, especially about fishing, golf, and baseball, he brought a particular brand of humor and perspective to many challenging discussions, speaking his mind and sharing his heart even when his voice was raised in singular dissent. He was respected for his loyal opposition because, even while serious in the moment of debate, when it was over, he showed no hard feelings, just whimsy, and the offer to serve the first round.

Dan Sullivan ‘65, President Emeritus, told me last night, “I knew David for 59 years. We were very close. Throughout it all, even when complicated or difficult, our friendship was worth it any way you count it.”

Lynn and I extend our heartfelt sorrow and appreciation to Joanne, their children Katrin ’92 and Tom, and to everyone on the Board or campus who remembers David with warmth and abiding admiration.