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Jerome D. Bird, a retired television and video producer and singing enthusiast, dies

Jerome D. Bird was a member of many Baltimore choral groups.
Jerome D. Bird was a member of many Baltimore choral groups.

Jerome Darwin Bird, a retired television and video producer who had been education director for the Pride of Baltimore II, died of progressive supranuclear palsy Dec. 21 at Edenwald Senior Living in Towson.

He was 83 and formerly lived in Charles Village, Canton and in the Stoney Point section of Anne Arundel County.

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Born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, he was the son of Samuel Warren Bird, an insurance executive and his wife, Marion Williams, a kindergarten teacher.

Mr. Bird attended Wisconsin schools and studied at a Roman Catholic seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He left religious studies and earned a master’s degree in radio, television and film at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

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He met his future wife, Hanora O’Sullivan, at Northern Michigan University where they were faculty members. They later joined the faculty of Bowling Green University before moving to Baltimore. While there he joined the Black Swamp Players and appeared as a detective in the play “Gaslight.”

After moving to Baltimore, Mr. Bird joined Maryland Public Television and worked on a children’s program, “Book, Look and Listen,” that featured a costumed Ethel Ennis, the singer. It was nominated for a local Emmy Award. He also did promotions of the Maryland State Fair at Timonium.

He later was co-founder of Capital Communications, a Crofton-based film, video and print training company. His primary client was the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

He also worked as a consultant for the Social Security Administration and made a training film on how to handle disruptive clients.

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“His work took him to prisons all over the country to make training films — it was said there were two issues that could cause a riot, burnt lasagna and delayed mail delivery,” said his wife Hanora.“The films were made as part of professional development for the prison staff and administrators.”

Mr. Bird and his wife settled in an unrenovated Charles Village home on Calvert Street in the 1970s. They removed its numerous small apartments which had been created during a World War II housing shortage.

He was a past member and secretary of the Charles Village Civic Association and was involved in a campaign for former City Council member Mary Pat Clarke and former Mayor Clarence Du Burns. Mr. Bird made media presentations for the candidates.

After moving to a development called Canton Square, he became the director of the Baltimore Harbor Endowment. The group worked to raise funds and extend the brick promenade around the harbor’s edge that is popular with walkers and runners.

He enjoyed sailing and owned a small craft that he piloted around the harbor.

Mr. Bird became the education director for the Pride of Baltimore II. He made videos of the clipper sailing at sea that were shown when he made stops around the world. He visited the Pride in London and China. He sailed from Baltimore to Scotland and later told friends of his sea sickness.

In a 2000 Sun story, Mr. Bird described a Tall Ships visit to Baltimore: “If Ishmael were to walk out of ‘Moby Dick’ and into Fells Point this weekend to see these ships, he would see the same spars and rigging, the same barques, barquentines and schooners. The steel hulls, however, would be new to him.”

He was also president of the homeowners association in Canton Square.

“Jerome had a lifetime of contributing to his community,” said his wife. “He had a Pickwickian sense of humor, like a character in Charles Dickens.”

He led a clean up of O’Donnell Square and gathered trash and trimmed shrubbery.

He had pictorial historical plaques installed to show the history of Canton and the Baltimore harbor.

Mr. Bird was chair of St. Vincent de Paul Church Architecture Committee and headed a ten-year renovation project. He also climbed the church’s landmark tower to change the exterior lights.

A tenor, Mr. Bird loved to sing and was a member of many Baltimore choral groups, including the the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Encore Chorale, the Saint Vincent de Paul Church choir, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Handel Choir and Annapolis Chorale.

Mr. Bird was a globe trotter. He and his wife visited over 80 countries in his lifetime. He memorialized these trips in photographs.

“He also was a man who kept his promises to the end. He was sober for over four decades without a stumble,” said his wife.

Survivors include his wife of more than 52 years, Dr. Hanora O’Sullivan, a retired University of Baltimore and Marymount University professor, a brother, Sam Bird of Norwalk, Connecticut; a sister, Bonnie Sullivan of Pittsboro, North Carolina; and nephews.

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