By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
While Corbin residents and thousands of sports fans continue to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of James Calvin Bird, the family has announced the finalization of one of Bird’s “passions.”
Bird, 75, passed away June 19.
However, his memory, along with his three brothers, will carry on with the establishment of a college scholarship for students residing in Corbin.
Named the University of Kentucky Bird Family Endowed Athletics Scholarship, Corbin resident Steven Moore, director of Major and Planned Giving for the University of Kentucky, said the family has worked to create this fund for some time.
“This was set up a couple of weeks ago,” Moore said. “Calvin was very fond of this — he would get really emotional when he would talk about it.”
Moore explained the scholarship “is purely an academic scholarship” targeted for students who participate in some form of athletics in high school, including sports teams, cheerleading squads, dance teams — “anything at all having to do with athletics,” he said.
However, those scholarship recipients won’t be attending college for sports — Moore reiterated the scholarship is for academics.
“Students would be picked based on high academic standing,” Moore said, adding that the Bird brothers wanted the recipient to be a family’s first-generation college student.
“Bird liked that,” Moore said. “It breaks a family out of the cycle.”
Moore explained the idea was that these first-generation college attendees would “marry another college student,” and then their children would likely also opt to take the road toward a college degree.
“The Bird brothers were really fond of that idea,” he said.
Calvin Bird was one of four brothers all famous for their athleticism — those men were Jerry Bird, Rodger Bird and the late Bill Bird.
Calvin Bird was well-known as a superb high school athlete while playing for the Corbin Redhounds.
He received 10 letters while suiting up for Corbin in various sports, and he made the All-Tournament Team in every tournament, district or region, in which he participated.
Bird left Corbin as one of the school’s most prolific scorers in basketball, and was a member of the undefeated and state championship football team in 1955. That year, the Redhounds won the state title with a 27-21 victory over Newport Public in the Recreation Bowl.
While playing football for the Redhounds, Bird was an All-State and High School All-American in both the 1955 and 1956 seasons.
After his career as a Corbin Redhound, Calvin Bird went on to have a prolific career as a football player at the University of Kentucky where he had his jersey number retired (No. 21) at the Wildcats’ 1996 Kickoff Luncheon in Lexington.
Corbin resident Baker E. Reasor is the principal donor of the fund. According to the agreement dated June 5, “the initial principal of the Fund shall consist of $5,000. It is the intention of the Donor (Reasor) that the principal of the Fund will be added to later by the Donor or others by means of personal gifts over the next five (5) years, ending on April 18, 2018.”
The agreement goes on to say the donor is not legally or morally bound to the “declaration of intention.”
“When the contributed value of the Fund reaches $25,000, the spending distribution shall be used annually to support one or more scholarships in an amount to be determined by the Academic Scholarship Office,” the agreement states. “If, however, the principal of the Fund fails to reach ($25,000) within (5) years of the date of this agreement, this Fund shall be treated as an unendowed scholarship and spent down in accordance with the terms thereof until exhausted, at which time the Fund shall terminate.”
The Bird family and Reasor look to meet that $25,000 range. According to the agreement, “It is the desire of the Donor that this Fund will benefit the University (of Kentucky) in perpetuity.”
A memorial service and reception is slated for 3-5 p.m. Saturday, June 29 at Central Baptist Church in Corbin. In lieu of flowers the family requests people to choose a cause important to them and their family and donate time or make a monetary contribution and reflect on and celebrate Calvin’s life.
That includes this scholarship fund.