Jared, Michael, Ray and Shirley Baird & Virgil and Carrie “Cookie” Calfee
“When you get the chance, give back. You never know whose life you might impact,” are not just words to Michael Baird and Jared Baird. The brothers wanted to give back to Washington County and have done so with the establishment of the ABC Heritage Scholarship to honor their grandparents.”‘ “A’ because it’s an Ag scholarship. B for Baird and C for Calfee, and education and reading were important to both of them, hence the ABC part,” explained Michael and Jared.
Both Michael and Jared graduated from Salem High School and the Ag Department at Purdue University. They wanted to do something for their grandparents, Ray and Shirley Baird and Virgil and Carrie “Cookie” Calfee, who placed a high value on education. “We felt like starting a scholarship fund was an appropriate way to give back because it is something we both benefited from,” explained Michael and Jared. Michael was a Lilly Endowment Community Scholar from Washington County and Jared received many scholarships from the Foundation and the Salem Education Foundation as well as through 4H. “They helped set the stage to get us where we are today,” Michael and Jared said, referring to their grandparents.
Ray (born in 1929) and Shirley (born in 1930) Baird came from Akron, Ohio and settled in Salem, Indiana. Virgil (born in 1936) and Carrie (born in 1939) Calfee lived in Cleveland, Tennessee and were both farming families. Ray and Shirley both loved working on the farm where they raised row crops and milked cows. They raised three boys on the farm: Paul, Carl, and Kevin. Ray enjoyed working in local government and Shirley was truly a “homemaker” and was a General in the kitchen. Growing up, many hours were spent around the kitchen table working sweet corn, strawberries, or tomatoes. Both Ray and Shirley enjoyed being outdoors, and spending time with their grandchildren. Any time not spent on the farm or outdoors was spent working in church related activities. “Going to Grandma and Grandpa’s was just always so amazing. When there was a “work day” there and school was not in session, there was always a big breakfast that she would whip up. It was always good to spend time with Grandpa and Dad outside afterwards,” recalled Michael and Jared. “When we were little, Grandma would always read with us. Our love of books comes from sitting on the couch with Grandma and spending hours and hours reading”, they continued.
“I remember Grandma Shirley would always ask me how school was going and there may have been a time or two when she got after me because of my grades. It wasn’t that I was a bad student; she just had high hopes and expectations for me,” said Jared.
“I miss talking with Grandma Shirley, her hugs, and her cooking.” I miss playing checkers with Grandpa Ray, watching basketball together, and being outdoors with him. It never failed that Grandma had been baking. The freezer was always full of cookies or brownies.”
Both Carrie and Virgil Calfee were actively involved in the main farm enterprise of milking cows. They also had three children, David, Linda, and Glenn. Carrie was a master biscuit maker and ensured that nobody left the house hungry after the morning milking was done before the three children headed off to school. Michael and Jared remember, “Seeing Grandma and Grandpa was always an adventure. It was like going on vacation because of the 6-hour drive to get there, and when we were younger, we would typically stay for close to a week. When we were really young, we would to go the Smoky Mountains or Greasy Creek. We would stop at a little country store and get an ice cream cone. We would go to Cades Cove for a day to enjoy the scenery and Jared and I wanted to see the bears,” reminisced Michael.
Michael tells the story of how Carrie became known as “Grandma Cookie”. “She got the name, because when I was little she used to keep cookies around the house. When we visited I would walk over to her, look up, and say “Cookie” because I wanted a cookie. The name “Grandma Cookie” eventually stuck”, said Michael.
“I miss sitting in the den with Grandpa Ray and Grandma Cookie, being around them at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. We would talk to Grandpa about the ‘old days’ and about agriculture – cows and land. Grandma worked hard on the farm and in her community. She made amazing biscuits and cushaw pie.”
“Our grandparents were awesome! They had successful long lasting marriages, giving us examples of what to strive for in the future. They worked hard and knew what they wanted out of life.” Both Michael and Jared learned more from the example that was set by both sets of grandparents than by what was said. Their grandparents wanted them to do well in school and love God. They also wanted them to be honorable in everything that they did.
“Our four grandparents instilled in us the value of faith in God, hard work, and continuing our education. The impact that they created in raising their families on the farm and the community is something that we couldn’t be more proud of. This scholarship honors their legacy and is a lasting impact on the importance of agriculture, education, and making a difference. Just like our grandparents strived to impart on us the value of God, family, and education, we too want to impart those ideals with the winner of this scholarship. We hope this scholarship makes a difference in a life in and continuing education. Never quit reading, never quit learning, and never quit striving to make a difference.”