David Bird, 79, civic activist, campaign aide
|David Bird was a top political consultant.|
Globe Staff / November 6, 2007
Page 2 of 2 —After graduating from Harvard, Mr. Bird worked for the government as a specialist in eastern European affairs. He married Jeanne Meyer 54 years ago.
Along with his twin, Mr. Bird also worked for a time with the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Bird was posted in Germany and Turkey, where he trained agents while gathering intelligence from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Upon returning to Boston in the early 1960s, he founded Bison Associates, a consulting company that specialized in politics, economics, and urban social issues. Later, he merged his firm, creating King-Bison with Melvin King, who later served as a state representative and twice ran unsuccessfully for mayor. The firm helped rehabilitate affordable housing in Roxbury and the South End.
As a skilled political consultant, Mr. Bird “played a pivotal role” in helping Endicott Peabody become governor when he unseated John Volpe in the 1962 election, Robert Peabody said.
“He and my father were very close,” Peabody said. “I know my father drew on his counsel not just in the areas where he was assigned to work, but in all areas – political and spiritual. David was a very deep thinker.”
Deep, but hardly staid, recalled Peabody and Mr. Bird’s daughter.
“He spoke fluent Russian and led a Polish dance troupe. And he played the guitar with vigor,” Peabody said, drawing on a repertoire that ran from “Russian drinking songs to sea chanties.”
Said his daughter: “In thinking about him now, one thing rings most true. For a man of his upbringing, opportunity, and intellect, he did not possess an ounce of pretension. I will miss his humanity, perhaps most of all.”
During the 1960s, Mr. Bird helped develop the Center for Choice, a forum for gathering the views of the public and making them known to candidates and elected officials. Through the center he co-created the mayormobile during the mayoral campaign in 1967.
“He certainly was a scholar of the public sector,” Sears said. “David was a very exciting political personality.”
Mr. Bird was also involved with organizations that worked on everything from the impact of population growth on Massachusetts to facilitating the exchange of healthcare knowledge and practitioners between the United States and the Soviet Union.
He had served as a director of Bird & Sons, the family business in East Walpole; as board chairman for The Conway School of Landscape Design in Conway; and as president of the Boston Center for International Visitors.
“He was very much a visionary,” his daughter said. “I don’t know if ideas found him or he found ideas.”
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Bird leaves two sons, Marten of Westport and Matthew of Brighton; and a brother, Charles Sumner Bird III of Manchester-by-the-Sea.
A memorial service will be announced.