Skip to main content

Viola A. Bird, 1905 - 2007

Information about Viola Bird, Assistant Law Librarian under Mrs. Marian Gallagher

Education

M.L.S., University of Washington, 1952

J.D., University of Washington, 1950

B.A., Lawrence University, 1927

Background

Born Viola Avis Foster in Fall River, Wisconsin, she grew up in Long Beach, California. She returned to Wisconsin to attend and graduate from Lawrence College in Appleton, becoming the first member of her family to receive a college degree. While there she met her future husband, Winfred W. Bird, to whom she was married for forty-seven years, until Win's death in 1976. The young couple resided in Seattle where Win was a faculty member of the Speech Department at the University of Washington.

When Win enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Viola worked outside the home and volunteered more than 1000 hours with the Aircraft Warning Service. Following the war, she completed the law degree she had started twenty- three years earlier receiving her Juris Doctor from the University of Washington in 1950.

Rather than practice law, she went on to earn a Master of Law Librarianship, which led to her 20-year career as the Assistant Law Librarian at the University of Washington, working with her mentor and friend Marian Gallagher. In return she mentored countless young people, instilling in them a confidence and leadership ethic, which was mentioned over and over by guests at her 100th birthday celebration.

After retiring from the University of Washington, Mrs. Bird became the first librarians at a major Seattle law firm. At the age of 81 she tried to retire again but after just one day, found herself teaching in the Highline Community College Adult Literacy Program. There she enjoyed a new group of friends from all over the world.

During these later years she pursued her computer skills and at her death, willed her computer to the young daughter of one of her dear Mexican students, again mentoring the next generation. During her lifetime she traveled extensively, learning about and enjoying the cultures and people of six continents.

Oral History