The flags in front of Meridian City Hall will fly at half staff this week as Meridian remembers Ronald “Keith” Bird, who served on the City Council for 20 years.
“Few people come across community leaders like this, and he was one of them,” said Mayor Tammy de Weerd in an interview Tuesday.
Bird, 77, died Friday. Although he was sick for some time, his death came unexpectedly, de Weerd said.
He served on the council from 1998 to 2017. When he stepped down, the city named a new park for him.
Bird moved to Meridian in 1965 and started as a community organizer for youth athletics, according to the city website. A former high school football player, he worked with Boise-based Youth Optimist Football, a league focused on relationship-building rather than competition. But he helped start basketball and baseball teams in Meridian, too, and he helped to build Brooks Baseball Field in Storey Park in 1982.
He and de Weerd both served on a parks commission in the 1990s. “We became friends through our focus on parks and open space to provide kids with a place to play,” she said.
He ran in 1998 for the council, advocating on behalf of “good growth,” de Weerd said.
He ran for mayor in 2003 against de Weerd and lost, but she said they remained friends as he continued on the council for 13 more years. “The Bird family says that he was my work dad,” de Weerd said. “He was a mentor, and I knew at the end of the day, even if we didn’t agree, that we loved and respected each other.”
Even after retiring from the Council, Bird still served the Meridian Development Corp., the urban renewal agency.
“It got him up in the morning,” de Weerd said. “It was that sense of pride he had in his community.”
Bird is survived by his wife, Marjorie, three children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, according to his obituary.
A visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8 at Alsip and Persons Funeral Chapel, 404 S. 10th Ave. in Nampa. Services will be held at 12 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at Meridian Middle School Auditoroium. Bird will be buried in Kohlerlawn Cemetery in Nampa.
“He was outspoken and had an opinion about Meridian,” de Weerd said. “He was a giant of a man.”