A Life Lived: Jasper Baird’s country roots kept him humble and kind

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2024

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Jasper Baird grew up like a lot of country boys and girls of his time did – “amongst the pine trees, dirt roads, farms, mules, and people who were real.”

Jasper William Baird, 87, Hampton, died May 26. He leaves behind his wife, Opal, three children, Lora Odom, Felecia Baird, and Karen Simpson, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Jasper grew up in the Poga community and attended Hampton High School. He was a drop-out, but later went on to get his GED and attended Elizabethton Business College, where he studied accounting. He served in the United State Marine Corps, where he was an airplane mechanic.

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When he came home from service, he began working on cars, working at Hampton Auto Parts and later had his own garage. That was after he had worked at the local rayon plants. When they closed down, Jasper used his talents to open his own garage.

Jasper’s daughter, Karen, described her dad as being multi-talented. “When he was in the military he received glowing reports on how well he did his job. When he opened his own business, he enjoyed working on volkswagens. He knew everything about them,” said Karen with pride.

Although after his marriage he moved to Hampton, Jasper never forgot his Poga roots. “He enjoyed going back to his home place and taking hikes and visiting friends,” said Karen. “He was a simple man, who enjoyed his work and family. He was strict. When we went to the dinner table, we ate and were quiet. To my dad, it was not a time to laugh and have fun,” she shared.

“He enjoyed simple foods like soup beans, fried potatoes and cornbread, and oh, he loved banana pudding,” she shared.

“Dad used to drag race in his younger years, but once he got in church, he gave it up,” said Karen.

Jasper was a member of the Praying Mountain Men and seldom missed going to the mountain for prayer meetings. The meeting place was located on the mountain on the north side of town where the three crosses are located with the large placard “Jesus is Lord.”

He was also a long-time faithful member of Hampton Christian Church. He loved his church and attended faithfully. “God, country, and family were important to him. He shared his faith every opportunity he got. He enjoyed praying with others, and many times prayed with people over the phone. When he was in the hospital before he died, he recited Psalms 23 to one of his nurses,” Karen recounted.

She noted that at the time of his death, he was memorizing the Bible, verse by verse and chapter by chapter. He was memorizing Psalms when his death came, however, he had already memorized several Bible books. He was a firm believer in “praying without ceasing.”
Karen said her father enjoyed singing. “He sang old Gospel songs,” and she noted that Jasper especially enjoyed helping others.

Jasper and Opal had been married 67 years at the time of his death. However, the past few years she had suffered from Alzheimer’s and was being cared for in a local nursing home. “He went to see her at least three times a week, and usually had lunch with her when he went.”

Billy Graham wrote: “When God gets ready to shake America, He may not take the Ph.D. and the D.D., God may choose a country boy. God may choose the man that no one knows, a little nobody…”

Only eternity will reveal the harvest of Jasper Baird’s witnessing and prayers for the hurting and unsaved on earth.

Jasper Baird was laid to rest May 30 at the Mountain Home National Cemetery. However, his testimony “Jesus saves” will endure to the end. He died a country boy saved by grace.