Agnes Virginia Tullis Bird, 88 years old-who in her "premeditated obituary" described herself as an opinionated, sarcastic old gal-died peacefully in her home in Grants Pass, Oregon, on Friday, February 6, 2009, of natural causes.She herself wrote that she was born in Baird, Texas, at high noon on April 29, 1920, and never missed a meal after that. She was the first of three daughters born to Albert J. Tullis and Edith Long Tullis. She is survived by her children Michael J. Bird and wife Kathy, Grants Pass, Oregon; Martha L. Roberts, Grants Pass; John T. Bird and wife Carolyn, Hays; Susan K. Bird, Washington, D.C.; David R. Bird and wife Lori, Portland, Oregon. She is also survived by nine grandchildren, Andrea Roberts Benson, Amy L. Bird, John M. Bird, Patrick R. Bird, Jessica E. Bird, Sterling Raum Bird, Ryal T. Bird, Robert Christman, and Ashlee Christman; a dozen great-grandchildren; sister Nancy Tullis Clark, Kansas City, Mo.; brother-in-law Otsie Stowell, Colorado; several nieces and nephews; two aunts in Oklahoma; a coterie of special friends; and numerous grandpets. In addition to her husband Mike and her parents and mother-in-law, she was predeceased by her sister Violet Tullis Stowell, brother-in-law Kenard Clark, and husband Mike Bird's three siblings and their spouses.Agnes spent her childhood with her family in numerous towns in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, following the oil development in the region. Albert and Edith lived in Russell during the '40s and '50s. In later life Agnes and her two younger sisters, Violet and Nancy, proudly sported T-shirts with the message "Oil Trash and Proud of It." Agnes Tullis and Mike Bird met while they were students at Fort Hays State. They married April 14, 1941, at St. Joseph Church in Hays. They resided on the Bird Farm at the edge of Hays, where Agnes's beloved mother-in-law, Martha L. (Nama) Bird also lived. They raised their five children there. Mike and Nama both died in 1964. After they married Mike and Agnes worked together in the grass seed harvesting business they founded. She operated heavy equipment and machinery and was also raising five children when Mike died unexpectedly. Three children remained in the home and Agnes took employment as a floral designer at the Pink Pony, and then began work at Travenol in Quality Control, working there for many years. She was an accomplished tailor/seamstress and owned the Hem House in Hays until she moved to Southern Oregon in 1982, where she continued her career in creative sewing.Agnes Bird was an alumna of Fort Hays State and education for her was a lifelong avocation. She took many college classes just for the knowledge and she read voraciously, subscribing to dozens of magazines, newspapers and book clubs. In later life, Agnes became an artist, in an active way. Her assemblages and other art were displayed in many art shows where she received awards and recognition for her works.She was an aficionado of cooking and won national awards for her recipes. Her collection of cookbooks rivals that of culinary institutes and libraries, and she read and used them all, passing her talents on to her children, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren. She authored her own recipe book, which was still being added to at the time of her death.Agnes was a member of Business and Professional Women and she mentored dozens of women, encouraging them to attain more education, to be proud of their jobs, and to be involved in outspoken ways in their community. Her proteges hold responsible positions with colleges and businesses throughout America.Agnes was a costume and clothing coordinator for the Fort Hays Madrigal Dinner from its inception. She coordinated the local efforts for the Jerry Lewis Telethon each September at KAYS-TV in Hays.A lifelong Democrat, Agnes ran for State Representative in Hays in 1972 and lost to Joe Norvell, who she then supported throughout his long career in the Kansas House and Senate. She was proud that her five children also developed keen political sensibilities and are Democrats. She was a writer. Each Christmas, her family would receive the latest additions to their Agnes Book, a collection of her essays, humorous and serious, about life in America during the Depression, the Dustbowl, World War II, the Viet Nam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and modern times. She also was prolific with thoughtful letters to the editor in Capper's and local papers in Hays and Grants Pass.She was ever the collector, especially of friends. She prized those who loved food, lively conversation, yard sales, creative pursuits, tea parties, other spirited gatherings, and quiet musings. A friend who played cards was especially valuable to her, and family recreation always included hard-fought canasta games, almost always won by Agnes and whoever her partner was. Agnes loved animals, and her children and grandchildren were welcome to bring home whatever the outdoors provided. Her home housed, at various times, an armadillo, coyote puppies, prairie dogs, snakes, ground squirrels, red squirrels, flying squirrels, red foxes, raccoons, white rats, ferrets, hawks, owls, crows, pigeons, blue jays, parakeets, parrots, horses, goats, and, continuously, dogs and cats. Agnes was proud to host her children's grade school classes for field trips to the Bird Farm, where the children saw not only the farm animals and pets, but the latest red-headed child, if the timing was right. She was a member of the Hays Parent Teacher Association for 30 years.A Celebration of Life will be held at Brock's North Hill Chapel in Hays on Saturday, Feb. 14, at 2 P.M. Officiating will be Reverend John Petty, her good friend and fellow Democrat. Burial will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery in Hays, Kansas, beside her husband Mike and other Bird Family members.Following the burial, there will be a public reception, with refreshments, at the offices of Glassman, Bird, Braun & Schwartz, 200 W. 13th, Hays, Kansas. Her friends and family and friends of her family are invited to join in sharing memories of the life of Agnes T. Bird.A memorial garden party will be held later at Agnes's home in Grants Pass when her spring flowers and dogwoods come into bloom.Agnes asked that instead of sending flowers, people plant living floral remembrances of scattered wildflower seeds or colorful perennials in one's garden. A contribution to the donor's local animal shelter, art museum, or library was her other suggestion.
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