David S. Bird was a trained economist, linguist, specialist in eastern European affairs, political consultant, and social activist. He was an early and long-time friend of the Conway School. He chaired the school’s first board of trustees.
David Bird’s contribution to the Conway School of Landscape Design was prodigious. It is no exaggeration to say that without David Bird, the fledgling school may not have survived its early years to grow into the nationally-recognized school of landscape design it is today.
Serving as Chair of the Conway Board of Trustees in the ’70s and into the ’80s, David marshaled his skills together with his great determination and persistence to help achieve legal status and initial accreditation for the Conway School. After stepping down as a board member, he was named Emeritus Trustee.
Among the top donors in the history of the school, David’s early financial support matched his input of time and expertise and was critical in keeping the school afloat; his support of the 2002 capital campaign for the new campus was key, and he continued giving annually and generously to Conway.
Remembering David Bird
David Bird attended a grant writing workshop in the mid 1970s. He and Conway School founder Walter Cudnohufsky were teamed up by chance to share their stories, intentions and desires. David was an instant convert and enthusiastic supporter of the “Conway School Idea”. He was ready with challenging questions, valuable information, insight and connections. He became a self-selected devotee to this small familial design and planning school. He appreciated its dedication to sustainable environmental design and the making of vital communities.
David became a cherished friend, mentor, facilitator and ultimately savior of the Conway School. David had a knack to see the truth and to serve the underdog, the needy, and the unrecognized. He rightly took pride in the School’s several accomplishments and in its hard won struggles. The uneven and often challenging economic times did not make it easy for a school who insisted on not relying on grants with strings attached. Legal wrangling for non-profit status, accreditation for this unorthodox school also needed David’s attention.
He appeared instantly and focused when any crisis would arise. He and his wife Jeanne hosted trustee meetings on many occasions. David was practical and protective and asked only to serve, which he did selflessly.
David brought students, projects, and lecturers to the school, occasionally giving a seminar himself, something he enjoyed immensely. Mostly he brought support and wisdom. He led staff alumni retreats and phono-thons. He loved to listen to the life stories of the school’s annual crop of new graduate students.