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Beloved Princeton volunteer Laila Bird remembered for her wit, hard work and courage

“She never stopped moving, and what a grin and a laugh she had.”
Laila Bird, serving a homemade pie at her home near Allison Creek. Spotlight file photo Laila Bird, entertaining friends at her home near Allison Creek. Spotlight file photo Art Martens

A remarkable piece of Princeton passed into history, Feb. 26, 2022.

Laila Bird died at the age of 86.

“She was such a character,” said her close friend Doreen Poulsen. “She never stopped moving, and what a grin and a laugh she had.”

Laila moved to Princeton in 2010 and quickly became involved in local groups.

She joined the garden club, and was its president for two years.

“The next thing you know she was at the Princeton Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store and she was president there for four years. She made an impression on everybody,” Poulsen recalled. “As far as the work she did, she did an amazing job. She could really rally people around her…She was just such an individual and she had strong feelings about a lot of things.”

Laila, who favoured brightly coloured outfits and bling, became something of a media darling across Canada in 2017, when the home she shared with her son Will on Highway 5A was destroyed by wildfire.

She gave interviews to major news networks, and even a tour of her property to the CBC.

In an interview with the Spotlight, just minutes after she learned her house was destroyed, she described how RCMP had to nearly force her from the property.

“Well, when you are under attack, you want to attack back. I chose to do that with a sprinkler,” she said with spirit.

When asked what she grieved for most she mentioned her tomato and green pepper plants, a pith helmet – a gift from a long ago friend – and her tea pot and her toe nail clippers.

As her story moved across the province she received several of both of the latter from admiring readers.

Laila, who grew up in England during the Second World War, enjoyed a variety of careers.

She worked in public relations for the Dutch Embassy in London, and after moving to Canada in 1957 operated a pig farm with her husband Dick.

She also worked in administration and was even a rural newspaper delivery person. She took great pleasure in gardening, cooking and feeding the birds.

Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne said her loss is felt by many in the community.

“I am going to miss Laila. She was one of a kind. I always loved our visits. Her strength during the 2017 fires, when she lost her home, never ceased to amaze me and my heart goes out to her family and friends.”

She is remembered by Dick, their four children, their families, and many friends.

A celebration of her life will be held Monday, March 28 at 1 p.m. at the Princeton Legion, 170 Bridge Street. Memorial tributes will be greatly accepted at your local hospital auxiliary.

Related: A fire can destroy many things – but not spirit

Related: GoFundMe set up for optimistic Princeton woman

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Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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