Avanelle E. Baird obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Avanelle E. Baird

September 18, 1919 - August 7, 2017

Obituary


Mary Avanelle Elliott Baird was born on September 18, 1919, at home in Tillar, Arkansas. She was welcomed into the world by her mother, Willie Adelle Breedlove Elliott, her father, David Carlyle Elliott, and her beloved sister, Frances Gertrude.

As a child, Avanelle was a tomboy who enjoyed climbing trees, turning flips and skipping rope. She said that, although it was difficult for her because she liked being a tomboy, she became more "lady-like and sedate" as she entered her teenage years. She still managed to enjoy playing tennis and croquet, riding horses and...

Mary Avanelle Elliott Baird was born on September 18, 1919, at home in Tillar, Arkansas. She was welcomed into the world by her mother, Willie Adelle Breedlove Elliott, her father, David Carlyle Elliott, and her beloved sister, Frances Gertrude.

As a child, Avanelle was a tomboy who enjoyed climbing trees, turning flips and skipping rope. She said that, although it was difficult for her because she liked being a tomboy, she became more "lady-like and sedate" as she entered her teenage years. She still managed to enjoy playing tennis and croquet, riding horses and fishing.

Avanelle developed an avid love of reading that lasted throughout her life. Her favorite book was always the Bible, and to the end, she read it daily.

Avanelle's deep-rooted faith was greatly influenced by her family. She saw her parent's faith as God used them to start the church in their home in Tillar and as they later moved that congregation to a nearby town so that two small groups could serve the Lord better together. She also saw how God used her maternal grandfather to tell the good news of Jesus all over southern Arkansas. Her childhood home was always open for visiting preachers. Despite growing up during the Great Depression, Avanelle never saw her mother and father turn anyone away who needed help. Avanelle has said that prayer and Bible study were a daily occurrence - always with the teaching by her mother and father that God's word is that on which we must build our life. Avanelle became a Christian when she was 13 years old.

Avanelle was a highly intelligent and dedicated student who skipped two years of school and graduated high school at the age of 15. She attended Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas and graduated at the age of 19 with a bachelor's degree in Business. To assist with college expenses, she worked as student secretary for Dean L.C. Sears and President George S. Benson. After graduating from college, she worked for five years as the Executive Secretary for the Arkansas Light & Power Company in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where her family was then living.

At the age of 24, Avanelle moved to Nashville, Tennessee to work as secretary for Batsell Baxter, President of David Lipscomb College. It was there that Avanelle met James Oscar Baird, Jr. James was teaching Bible and Sociology at Lipscomb, while working towards his Ph.d at Peabody College and preaching at Grace Avenue church of Christ in Nashville. Avanelle said that she was attracted to James because, "He was tall, erect, refined in actions, had a great smile, an unusually good mind and He loved the Lord, as well as preached the Word." She always wanted to marry a preacher.

James and Avanelle were married on May 31, 1946 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. They were married for 51 years. For their honeymoon, James and Avanelle traveled to Torrance, California where James would preach for the summer. They returned to Nashville in the fall and lived in the graduate dormitory on the George Peabody University campus. While James completed his Ph.d, Avanelle earned a Master's degree in Social Work from Peabody (now part of Vanderbilt University). While in Nashville, Avanelle gave birth to her first two children, Harriet Adelle and Lynn Muir.

The young family moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1950 to work with the newly formed Central Christian College, and Avanelle gave birth to her third and fourth children, Elisa Frances and James Oscar III. James accepted the presidency of Central Christian College and moved the school and his family to Oklahoma City in 1958. The school's name was changed to Oklahoma Christian College (now Oklahoma Christian University). Avanelle's last child, Morrow Beth, was born in Oklahoma City. Avanelle served as Oklahoma Christian's First Lady for 20 years.

Avanelle and her husband, James, always had a passion for missions. Many summers were spent in mission fields, and their Edmond, Oklahoma home had an upstairs apartment built to house visiting missionaries. Avanelle's work with missions and the college made her well-traveled, and she enjoyed visiting six continents and 49 states. When Avanelle was no longer able to travel, she became active in working with the International Class at Memorial Road church of Christ. People from all over the world have been impacted by Avanelle Baird's desire to share God's love.

Avanelle did not believe in being idle and kept herself busy as a wife and mother, Bible scholar and teacher, First Lady, author, missionary, prayer warrior and counselor. She was always gracious and hospitable - having learned those values early from her parents. Avanelle had high expectations for herself and worked hard to accomplish her goals. She loved her husband, James, and was always a credit to him. Avanelle was devoted to her family and enjoyed nothing more than being surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Later in life, Avanelle enjoyed playing cards, attending family reunions, fishing and going to basketball games. She loved holding babies and would rock them for hours in her mother's chair.

Avanelle spent the last four years of her life near her daughter, Harriet, in Claremore, Oklahoma. To the end, she was an example of godliness and dignity to all who met her. She served God faithfully for her entire life. Her impact in the lives of so many cannot be measured. Avanelle was gathered into her heavenly Father's arms on August 7, 2017. We are certain that she was greeted with, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

Avanelle Baird was preceded in death by her husband, James Oscar Baird, Jr.; father, David Carlyle Elliott; mother, Willie Adelle (Breedlove) Elliott; sister, Frances Gertrude (Elliott) Tyler; brother-in-law, Granville W. Tyler; and son-in-law, Bill R. Estep.

Avanelle is survived by her children: Harriet Estep of Claremore, OK; Lynn Jones and husband Jerry of St. Charles, MO; Frances Epperly and husband Bob of Wichita, KS; Jim Baird and wife Yodie of Edmond, OK; and Morrow Beth Forrester of Houston, TX. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Raye Lynn Mathews and husband Bruce of Claremore, OK; Terri Haws and husband John of Claremore, OK; Trevor Thompson and wife Jess of Grand Rapids, MI; Jeremy Thompson and wife Lauren of Little Rock, AR; John Epperly and wife Shea of New Hampton, IA and Canilla, Guatemala; Mary Beth Hetzel and husband Eric of Colorado Springs, CO; Amy Blasdel and husband Kyle of Wichita, KS; Sara Barker and husband Kenny of Wichita, KS; James O. Baird IV and wife Kristen of Edmond, OK; Taylor Baird and wife Stephanie of Edmond, OK; Elizabeth Baird of Edmond, OK; Jami Luallin and husband Caleb of Castle Rock, CO; Jacey Eslick and husband Jonathan of Owasso, OK; Kaleb Jacobs of Grand Junction, CO; and Kade Jacobs and wife Rachel of Parker, CO. Avanelle is survived by 42 great-grandchildren and her beloved nephew, Elliott Tyler and wife Kay of Athens, AL.

Memorial donations may be made to the Oklahoma Christian General Scholarship Fund.