James Baird, president of the Washington, D.C., Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died last week after accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in his home. In the days since his death, Baird’s impact has been felt throughout the D.C. area as he has been remembered and honored by friends and family, as well as many news outlets, including The Washington Post.
According to WUSA9, a news station in Washington, D.C., Baird, his wife and his daughter were all treated in the hospital after encountering high levels of carbon monoxide in their Bethesda, Maryland, home last Wednesday. The 61-year-old husband and father was found by his daughter in critical condition near the furnace, and it is believed that a boiler malfunction led to the heightened carbon monoxide levels. The home was under renovation and the couple was living in the basement. Baird’s daughter, Shaundra, performed CPR on her father, but he passed away the following day in the hospital.
“I think about my life with him, and I think other people do, as a series of small, special moments just kind of strung together by this overarching vision and love for people,” his son, Joseph Baird, told NBC Washington. “Everybody I’ve ever talked to who knew him felt like he was their best friend and so you can imagine what it might be like to be the son of such a person.”
Baird is remembered as a family man who is survived by his wife, Lindy, four children and several grandchildren, Washington’s Top News (WTOP) reported.
As stake president, Baird served nine wards and two branches of the LDS Church in Maryland and D.C. The stake is home to approximately 4,000 Latter-day Saints. His first counselor in the stake presidency, Nathan Sheets, told WTOP that Baird’s death is “an almost inexpressible loss.”
“In these formal capacities he was instrumental in leading our efforts and teaching and helping people,” Sheets said. “But it was this combination of both the official responsibility and the great heart, almost sort of the unofficial parts of who he was, that just made him so powerful. It was really a wonderful combination.”
A Facebook page has been flooded with memories of Baird from family, friends and fellow LDS Church members. Stories and talks written by Baird have also been shared by the family because as his daughter Shaundra wrote, “my dad would very much like to continue to speak with and keep in touch with you.”
“Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website reads. “CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.”