For those who are old enough to remember her, Lois Bird was a very special friend. Born Feb. 8, 1907, she came to East Rochester with her family in 1913 from Phelps.
Her father, Louis, was the village high school principal and later district superintendent. Her mother, Laura, was a teacher. Lois had four sisters and her family lived for many years on
East Ivy Street, opposite Edmund Lyon Park.
Lois graduated from high school in 1924 and Keuka College in 1928. In 1939, she received a degree in psychology from Penn State. She continued to work on her doctorate there with nationally known reading specialists. Lois taught second and third grade and was an assistant elementary school principal but spent most of her life as a reading specialist often working with students who had come from abroad to help them learn English.
Miss Bird was very active in school and village organizations including the ER Teachers’ Association, ER Pioneers, ER Youth Recreation Council and the ER Civic Music Association.
She also worked with teachers and helped start the Rochester Chapter of the International Reading Association, and she was an early member of the regional chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma — an international organization for women educators.
During her life, Miss Bird received many awards, including Rotary Citizen of the Year (1966), and St. Nicholas Society Citizen of the Year (1984).
Lois loved sports and kept in close touch with the East Rochester teams and the football teams from Penn State. She was like a mother to the teams’ players and often wrote letters of encouragement or congratulations to the teams.
These letters were posted on the teams’ bulletin boards for all the players to see. Lois’s most special collection was her valentines — she had over 1,000. She began collecting them in the 1920s when her mother gave her a valentine from the Civil War which she had found in an antique shop. Lois enjoyed sharing her valentines with students. Some cards from her collection are currently displayed in our Local History Room located in the Eyer Building, borrowed from the East Rochester Public Library.
The love Lois felt for everyone was reciprocated often, especially when the elementary school was named in her honor in 1980. Lois died on Jan. 4, 1996. She loved learning and sharing that passion made her the special teacher we all admired and respected. Her kindness, support and integrity were always evident. As we think of Valentine’s Day, Miss Bird remains in our hearts.