Baird, George Hetzel

Rhinebeck, NY - George Hetzel Baird, 97, a former Armonk resident, passed away Saturday, September 4, 2004 at the home of his daughter in Rhinebeck, NY.

At the time of his passing Mr. Baird was the oldest living Olympic Gold Medalist; having won the Gold Medal and setting a World Record in 1600 Men’s Relay at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

Born in Grand Island, Nebraska, March 5, 1907, his father was William Hull Baird, a chemist and superintendent of many sugar beet factories in the Midwest and his mother, Louise Hetzel, a homemaker. The family moved many times during his childhood, opening sugar beet factories around the country.

He graduated from Mason City High School, Mason City, Iowa, where he excelled in track, in 1925. He attended the University of Iowa, and became a member of the Olympic Track Team in his junior year. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1929.

During WW II he worked in Civilian Public Service at camps throughout the country where he worked in logging, forestry, building dams as well as other government projects. Throughout his life he has traveled to many places around the world.

For many years he worked with his famous puppeteer brother Bil Baird of ‘Bil Baird’s Marionettes, performing for theater, television and government sponsored cultural exchange programs to India.

In 1964 he earned a masters degree and eventually became an assistant professor of education at New York University where he worked until retirement.

He devoted the remainder of his life to the teachings of the philosophy of Theosophy, tirelessly writing, lecturing and maintaining a Theosophical correspondence course.

On September 7, 1952 in Somers, NY he married Dorethea Lawson Baird.

In addition to his wife Dorethea of Rhinebeck, he is survived by a daughter Bonnie Baird Mahal of Rhinebeck, two sons Jeff Baird, and his wife Ydania of Mahopac and Andrew Baird, and his wife Diane of Stony Point, and six grandchildren. He was predeceased by a brother Bil Baird.

Memorial services will be held privately at the convenience of the family.

Memorial contributions may be made to

Arrangements are under the direction of the Dapson-Chestney Funeral Home, 51 W. Market St, Rhinebeck, NY

To send condolences, please click on the condolences button.
All condolences will be printed and presented to the family.