It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we announce the passing of Jill Colleen Baird on November 1st, at the age of 68 years old, after courageously battling heart failure and lung disease for many years. Jill left this world surrounded by her loving family in the comfort of her own home, leaving behind a legacy of love, generosity, and cherished memories that will live on in the hearts of her beloved family and friends.
Born on August 7th, 1955, Jill was the youngest daughter of June and Harold (Huck) Burnham. She attended a country school in Chapelle Township and graduated from Highmore High School in 1973. Jill grew up riding horses and rodeoing, a passion she shared with her dad. She was immensely talented winning many barrel racing competitions on her beloved horse, Duke. She went on to rodeo in college and even went pro for a while. She went on to attend Black Hills State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology. She spent her career at the Fort Meade VA Medical Center where she worked for over 30 years. She spent most of her years working in the lab prior to finishing her career in a CAC (Clinical Application Coordinator) position where she implemented, trained, and supported clinical software applications used at the medical center.
She was united in marriage to Billy Lee Baird on October 9, 1982. Bill and Jill enjoyed many activities as a couple, from Thursday night mixed doubles bowling league in the winter, to golfing with friends in the summer. Jill won the South Dakota State Singles Championship in 2004, posting a score of 740 in the handicap division, a highlight of her bowling career. The state bowling tournament was always a highlight of her year, where she enjoyed endless fun and laughs with her sister Connie, and close friends. They were blessed with a large group of friends that shared many adventures, laughs, and memories. Some of the more memorable events included Halloween costume parties, Christmas Tree Hunts, camping trips, Caribbean/Mexico/Alaska cruises, winters spent in Arizona, and numerous state bowling trips.
To this union, two children were born- twins! Bailey Marie and Nicholas Lee were born on September 30, 1985. As they grew, she loved attending their various activities, such as ballet recitals, golf tournaments, track meets, gymnastics meets, and bowling league. She was always there to mentor, encourage, and cheer for her kids. She was proud of all their academic and athletic accomplishments, as well as the adults they became and the families they built.
Jill touched the lives of many through her compassion, generosity, and unwavering commitment to those around her. After retirement, she continued to have an impact as she volunteered her time at the Fort Meade VA Medical Center and the Sturgis Regional Hospital. She was also an active member of the local Lion’s Club where she helped with fundraisers, like collecting money for motorcycle parking during the Rally. She also participated in the annual pancake breakfast at the senior center, and her favorite, dedicating her time to the Lion’s Club fishing derby. The derby provided her the opportunity to pass on her excitement for fishing to kids that might not otherwise have exposure to this lifelong hobby.
Jill had a passion for outdoor activities including camping, fishing and bike riding. Her favorite place to be was camping at Farm Island Campground in Pierre with her family. You could find her lounging in the sun or out on the boat fishing with Bill or watching the kids do water sports. While she loved spending time in a social setting, she also liked her alone time and was a voracious reader. On Sundays you could find her rooting on her Green Bay Packers as well.
What she loved most later in life was her family, especially her kids and grandkids. Her three grandchildren were the light of her life, and they always brought a smile to her face even during the most difficult times. She loved them immeasurably and was immensely proud of them. She always looked forward to getting the family together during the holidays, where she showcased her talent for baking, just like her mom. She was famous for her variety of decadent Christmas treats, bringing huge trays to work, friends, and social gatherings. She also loved family trips, and spending time watching her grandkids swim, boat, and ride bikes during camping outings.
Jill was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and friend whose presence brought joy to countless lives. Grateful to have shared in her life is her husband Bill Baird of Sturgis, her children; Nicholas (Kelsey) Baird of Rapid City, and Bailey (Nick) Wintersteen of Sioux Falls; her grandchildren; Dylan (9), Finley June (6) and Leo (2) Wintersteen, her siblings; James “Bud” (Suzi) Burnham of Rapid City, and her best friend, Connie (Gerald) Dewey of Rapid City, and very special Aunt Donna “Tickie” McDonald. Jill also leaves behind numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Jill was preceded in death by her mother, June (LaFurge) Burnham; father, Huck Burnham, older brother Billy Burnham, grandparents Forest and Mary (Berry) Burnham and Robert and Violet (Howard) LaFurge and a very special Uncle Gary McDonald.
A memorial service to honor and remember Jill will be held on Monday, November 6th, 2pm, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel with a visitation starting at 1pm. Friends and family are invited to gather together to pay their respects, share memories, and find solace in the support of one another during this difficult time.
A memorial has been established to the Highmore Pool.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.kinkadefunerals.com.