On Thursday, March 26, 2015, I buried my beloved husband, David. We are finally able to truly grieve and it hurts more than I imagined. The finality of David’s passing is gut wrenching but I am comforted by the tremendous welcome home he had at the church on Wednesday evening and the beautiful farewell ceremony on Thursday. He is resting in peace now and we can all rest easier because of it.
Thank you for all of your comforting words, prayers, support and generosity over the past 14 months. I know what I posted many of you shared and so many people worldwide were praying for David’s safe return home. He did return home…the shell of him was returned to us but his soul is surely in heaven.
On this journey, I have been blessed in many ways. The most comforting was being welcomed into the world of missing loved ones. It is not a club any of us chose to be in but I am grateful for the network of courageously strong and loving people I met who helped me along this painful journey.
Friends, my family of the missing are still my family and although I have stepped out of the inner circle I will always cherish our friendship and do what I can to help find the missing.
I ask all my FB friends to continue sharing the pleas of hope to find the missing. If we didn’t continue to spread the word of David’s red jacket he would never have been found.
Peace and Love to you today and everyday.
by Nancy Fleming Bird
David Bird Eulogy
March 26, 2015
I am honored to be asked by Nancy to say a few words about my brother-in law. As difficult as it might be, I will try to do him justice over the next few minutes – with a lot of help from other members of the family.
The impact that David Bird had on his family and friends, his co-workers and his community, simply cannot be overstated.
A Jersey boy through-and-through, born and raised in Mercer County outside of Trenton, he was the youngest of six siblings – four boys and two girls – part of a large Irish American family, where his knack for winning friends and influencing people became apparent at a very early age.
His sister Maryann recalls her feelings as an eight-year-old already coping with four younger bratty siblings:
The last thing I wanted to see around the house was another screaming attention-seeker in diapers. I declared, in anger and sadness – ‘No! No more babies!’ By September, though, my opposition had collapsed in the face of the inevitable and soon vanished entirely with the arrival of one David Christopher Bird. He was sweet and cute and I was instantly taken with him. This delightful bundle of brother grew up to follow me into journalism, travel widely, share values and ethics and become a close and treasured friend.
Maryann may have been the first, but she certainly wasn’t the last, to fall for David. Brother Dennis recalls that he and David were youthful partners in crime – at least when it came to smuggling forbidden loot in the form of Tastykakes. They snuck them into the house, Dennis says;
by hauling them up to our third floor bedroom window with a rope tied to a Trentonian newspaper delivery bag. We were almost caught once when our mother pulled into the driveway, saw us at the open window and called for us to come help bring in the groceries. How she didn’t see that bag suspended halfway up the house was always a mystery to us.
It was no contest when I chose my best man for my wedding in 1982 because David was, quite literally, the best man that I knew. He was a great listener as well as an incredible story teller with a unique wit. He always ended our phone calls by saying ‘I love ya man.’ I smiled every time I heard it and it certainly worked both ways.
Sister Kathleen offers some insight into how journalism became the de facto family business:
With six kids born in eight years, we were close. As the three younger kids, Denny, David and I played together all of the time and our friends and neighbors growing up on Armour Avenue have been praying and have been in touch.
Likewise, he formed close bonds with the Rider crew, and the Trenton journalists from Rider and Trenton State (where I went) all knew each other and socialized and some ended up working at the Trenton Times or the Trentonian. Some of them went on to Dow Jones and some to the Star-Ledger and NJ state government and stayed in touch these many, many decades since those college days.
With a news junkie as a father, with six daily newspapers (seriously — Newark, Trenton, Philly and NYC) and the radio and TV news on all of the time, it’s no wonder that three of the six kids ended up being journalists.
Kathy concludes; “David was a SUPERB writer who engaged the reader, in my opinion.”
She is not alone in that opinion. Here is what Gerard Baker, editor of the Wall Street Journal, wrote to his staff about David, in a note last week:
David was among the most respected energy journalists anywhere, a must-read for energy-market professionals known as an acute observer and commentator on the global oil market who was devoted to his beat and generous with his colleagues.
Well-sourced among the world’s most influential oil ministers, David would regale younger reporters with stories about what went on behind the scenes at some of the most historic OPEC meetings. His ability to navigate the vast troves of public oil data was unmatched. At 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays he could be often seen hunched over his computer, sifting through spreadsheets and crunching numbers just released by the Energy Information Administration. He was often the first to gain insight into important energy-market trends.
To his colleagues at Dow Jones, David was a mentor, a friend and a model of integrity and dedication to his profession. Above all that, of course, he was a loving father and husband.
David was all those things, but the quality that most endeared him to many of us was his wonderful, quirky sense of humor. He loved to laugh and make other people laugh. He loved good comedy and bad puns – the badder the better.
I once got a laugh out of him when I told him that the name of a ceramic elf in our Montauk garden was “Chom Gnome-ski.” (David got that joke, unlike some of you).
The guy just loved wordplay. Tasha remembered something he used to say that is particularly apropos for today: “It takes real fun to have a funeral.” Think about that one for a minute.
Nancy learned what mirth was in store for her very early in their marriage. In fact, it was on their honeymoon. They checked into a hotel in Venice – city of romance, art and history. One of the notable features in the room was a tiny, European-style bathtub.
So there was David the next morning, crammed into this tiny tub, knees jammed up under his chin, singing lustily: “She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain when she comes…” (Nancy actually has video of this. It’s something to see.)
Later in their family life, David, Tasha and Alex would memorize entire Monty Python sketches and act them out: “I know a dead parrot when I see one, and there’s one right there!”
Of course, a turning point in David’s life occurred about 10 years ago, when he contracted a rare form of hepatitis and became a candidate for a liver transplant, which ultimately saved his life.
He was deeply, profoundly grateful for the opportunity he had to, literally, get a second lease on life.
He was not one to let this miracle go to waste. He threw himself with amazing passion into the roles that meant most to him – father, husband, member of the community.
With Alex, he got active in the Boy Scouts and became a passionate outdoorsman. He would actually look forward to doing things like going to the Adirondack Mountains in the middle of winter, digging a snow cave and sleeping in it for a couple of nights. The mere thought makes me shiver.
He became a passionate athlete – cycling hundreds of miles and competing in marathons. He may not have been the fastest guy out there, but no one was more passionate about finishing the race.
He became a passionate advocate for organ donation. He and Nancy devoted countless hours to the New Jersey Sharing Network – raising consciousness and spreading the word about how people’s lives could be saved each and every day through donation of vital organs. These efforts were noticed and they made a difference.
David was a spiritual person in so many ways. Brother Denny reminded me that for a time he was fascinated by the Hopi Indian belief that people had colorful auras around them signifying various traits. So David and Nancy had their auras photographed through some vaguely defined new age process, and David was amazed with what he found. He reported to Denny: “I was a true rainbow, much to the delight of the aura reader. Apparently it’s somewhat rare, but with lots of blue and green that shows creativity and great things ahead.” Then he added, “Interestingly, I had distinct white spots close to my head which represents spirits, angels or deceased folks looking out for me.”
Well, David, I am absolutely certain that you are now one of those bright, white spots – looking out for all of us.
David never forgot that his life was made possible by someone who had made the ultimate sacrifice. So, every year, he wrote a letter to the family of his deceased liver donor. His last letter was completed right before that Saturday in January 2014, when he went out to take what was supposed to be a short walk before dinner.
These are the words that he wrote:
I am writing again to thank you for your courageous decision in donating your loved one’s organs. I pray for my donor and her family each day and I sympathize deeply with your loss. Your decision allowed me to receive the transplant I needed and has allowed for boundless joy in these last nine years, which I didn’t expect to be around for.
I strongly believe that organ donation not only saves the lives of the recipients, but it also saves their families. Back in 2004, my children, at 3 and 6 years old, didn’t understand the severity of my illness, only the joy of having me back home and healthy. That is a priceless gift.
I have seen my son grow into an incredible young man of 15 years, funny, intelligent, handsome, kind and fun-loving. He loves reading, acting in school plays, writing and has a love and respect for nature and his community, as demonstrated through involvement in Boy Scouts. My daughter, now 12, has blossomed into a beautiful young woman. She displays remarkable talent and ambition as an artist and a writer and is a constant source of joy with her love of music and her mighty wit.
I’m proud that my wonderful wife and I have been able to have the time together to instill in our children strong senses of character, built on kindness, fairness, love and respect.
My gorgeous wife of 22 years is the love of my life, my rock and my idol. The years since my life-saving surgery have been a true blessing and have deepened my love for her.
My family and I have never lost sight of how fortunate I was to receive your wonderful gift.
In the 14 months that David was missing, his family and the beautiful Millington community coalesced around one burning desire – to bring David home.
Bring David Home.
Well, now David is home. Home for good.
And today, we celebrate his blessed life, we say goodbye for now, and yes –
We love ya, man.
James R. Wiggins
…It’s always tempting to express and maybe exaggerate what a good person someone was after they die but this guy was the Real McCoy. Outstanding and highly ethical journalist, loving husband, dedicated father, faithful friend. He was the whole package. It’s hard to think about how he died. I prefer to focus on how he lived. Prayer helps.
– Mark Iusi
… I met your wonderful husband at the NYC marathon in 2013, my daughter is a heart recipient and I had the honor of running alongside David on the NY Organ Donor Network Team. I had the privilege of sitting next to David at the dinner before the day of the marathon, and he told me his story, he told me about his beautiful family and he listened to my story about my daughter’s transplant journey.
What an incredibly kind soul your husband is. When I learned that he was missing just a few months later, I was so saddened, even though I only had a brief interaction with him, it was memorable and it was touching…..because, as you know, David is an amazing man.
I feel honored to have had the opportunity to get to know your husband and the opportunity to be on the same team supporting a cause that’s so near and dear to both of us, he’s an extraordinary man.
– Veronica Barker
May peace now truly be with Nancy and her children. He was a true inspiration in life and his story has made us all so much more aware of the true gift of life and love. I remain in awe of his family’s strength, honor and endurance in their search for him all of these months. God speed, David.
– Carolyn Daly Brink
I worked with David at Dow Jones Newswires. I knew and admired him for his work and for his courage to keep working in the face of his illness. His quick smile lighted up the newsroom. He was an ace reporter and a prince…
– Steve Cox
…David was one of the finest colleagues and best people I ever had the privilege to know and work with…
– Dirk Beveridge
Feeling great relief and huge sadness all mixed together about David Bird. The fact that the new website was launched the same day he was found was so ironic, like a message from David saying “I’m at peace.” …
– Janet SaulterHemmer
If there was ever one, David was the walking encyclopedia, the living memory of the OPEC world not just at the Wall Street Journal but the world over. He was the only colleague who could pull up any obscure statistic out of his hat for any given date but also give its broader meaning, context and history. He will be sorely missed in the OPEC fraternity.
– Benoit Faucon
…May David rest in peace, and find comfort in the sight of you, Alex, and Natasha being loved and supported by the network of family, friends, and neighbors who surround you. His life, lived so fully and so well, continues to inspire so many people.
– Wendi Mulvey
David will always be a source of light, compassion, and optimism. To know a man who lived with zeal, generosity, and gratitude is a blessing to us all. The Bird family will always have the love and support of this wonderful community. In peace and with love.
– Elizabeth Muller
David made the world a better place. My thoughts and prayers are with all the Bird family…
– Carmen Fleetwood Paul
I have never met David, but by him not being present, he taught me and this community so much about unity, support, love, humanness, persistence, and mostly gratitude. His love of life and family, his persistence to live, and his gratitude of being given the chance is overwhelming and a lesson to be cherished by all of us. God bless you Nancy and family. My prayers are with you for strength and peace and I thank you for sharing David’s life with us. He is forever found and will be forever remembered.
– Judy Vandeveen Carbone