Robert Michael Bird was born on February 18, 1953 in Provo, Utah. He was the third child, and first son, of Robert F. and Larell F. Thurman Bird. He was a happy adorable child with curly brown hair, big brown eyes, and was much loved by his older sisters and parents. Another sister and brother later joined the family after they moved to Van Nuys, in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California.
Michael attended Kester Avenue School and Van Nuys Junior and Senior High Schools. He attended Brigham Young University where he graduated with a degree in Theater and Cinematic Arts. Michael loved acting and was in several plays at BYU, but he also loved painting, all of the performing arts, and architecture. He often talked of his love of architectural design, and took many pictures of interesting buildings when he lived in France.
Michael served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints in France and Belgium from 1972–1974. He loved France, and had many memorable experiences there. He shared a love of all things French with his younger sister and brother who also served French speaking missions. The three siblings loved to sing French Christmas carols together and enjoyed speaking French with each other over the years.
He decided to move to New York City in 1979, where he continued to live until his death. Michael loved the city. He often spoke of all the places, things and people he loved there.
Michael held several jobs throughout his years in New York, but by far his favorite was working for the Metropolitan Opera Company. He was exposed to opera at an early age by his mother who had a beautiful trained soprano voice. Working at the Met was a foray into that wonderful world of the performing arts which he loved so much. He had many wonderful friends and coworkers at the Met of whom he spoke highly.
Michael also loved the other Met, the art museum that housed so many paintings and other artworks that he loved. He often talked of his excitement about a new wing, or the opening of a new show. There were many other art museums that he appreciated including the BYU Museum of Art where his younger brother Brian was an exhibit designer for many years. He even loved the local art museum in his parents’ small home town of Springville, Utah.
He also enjoyed traveling, and geography and maps fascinated him. He shared this fascination with his siblings. In the 1970’s while his family still lived in Northern California, they often spent time traveling to different towns and beaches along the Pacific Coast. He and his siblings dreamed of the places they would one day visit. He had an ongoing (friendly) competition with his youngest sister about how many states each had been to. Michael picked pineapples in Hawaii, revisited France for his 50th birthday, traveled to Hong Kong and Thailand, and many U.S. states, just to name some of the places he visited.
He was an amazing conversationalist and could discuss just about any subject. He loved to read and learn new things, and he enjoyed wonderful movies new and old, and baseball. He often tried to explain the intricacies of the game to his less than enthusiastic sister.
Michael also had many important relationships in his life. He was devoted to his partner J Stoddard and J’s mother and sisters. They have been so good to him, and he has shared so many wonderful things with them for the past 40 years. He often spoke fondly of J’s family.
He was deeply caring and concerned for his father and mother. He often sent beautiful flower arrangements for Mother’s Day, and beautiful gifts from the Met gift shop. While he worked at the Metropolitan Opera Company, he always brought home the season program knowing it would delight his mother and sisters.
He was a loyal brother to his four siblings, and was devastated when his youngest sibling, Brian, died in 2010 due to complications from cancer. Despite the distance in miles he maintained a closeness of spirit with each of them that continued to the end of his life.
He was devoted to his nieces and nephews, and his brother’s widow, Merry. He always made a point of spending time with them when he came to Utah. He also fondly remembered his aunts, uncles, and cousins, and enjoyed seeing them and talking to them about their lives when he came to Utah.
He had many deep friendships with extended family, friends, and co-workers in Southern and Northern California, Utah, and New York.
In short Michael was a loving, intelligent, son, brother, friend and partner. After his passing on April 7th it seemed as if a very bright light had suddenly gone out. It is faith in the eternal nature of love and friendship that gives us great hope, and foreshadows a joyous reunion with Michael and all of his loved ones.
After experiencing mild symptoms for two weeks, Michael was hospitalized on March 31, 2020. He died as a result of COVID–19 on April 7, 2020, at the Mt. Sinai Hospital, in New York City. J was allowed to be with Michael in the hospital just before he died. Michael’s sisters are so grateful J was with him when he died.
Michael was preceded in death by his grandparents, his younger brother, Brian, his Father, and Mother, and many aunts and uncles.
He is survived by his loving partner of 38 years, J. Howard Stoddard, his sisters, Diana Bird, Kathleen Bird, Pamela Bird Becker (Tim), his brother’s widow, Merry Hildebrand Bird, and his nieces and nephews Elizabeth Burgess, Rachel Webb, Nathan Bird, Vanessa Dixon, Emily Crawley, Matthew Bird, Josef Becker, Benjamin Becker, many cousins, and grand nieces and nephews.
Because of social distancing and other complications during this time of the COVID–19 Pandemic, no memorial or graveside services are currently planned. Michael’s many loved ones, and friends will be notified when it is safe and possible for us to hold these services for him. In the meantime, a memorial Facebook group page, open to the public, has been created in his loving memory. We invite anyone who knew Michael, to go to the R. Michael Bird Memorial page to post memories, condolences, and pictures as a way of celebrating his remarkable life.
Written by Pamela Bird Becker
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