RAY BIRD Student Advisory

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 05: Governance – Board of Trustees
Series 09: Biography
Series 19: Students
RAY BIRD Student Advisory
Published 2021-09-30 aae

RAY BIRD Student Advisory

Student, 1949 Graduate
Advisory Board Chair, 1996-1997
President and longtime Member, PMSS Association of Alumni and Friends 

RAY BIRD Student Board

1949 Graduating Class, Pine Mountain Settlement School. Ray Bird is second from left in the third row. [pmss_class_of_1949-2-e1494194193657.jpg]

TAGS: Ray Bird, students, Advisory Board, Class of 1949, boarding schools, CONIFER, The Pine Cone, printers, print shop, alumni, Pine Mountain Association of Alumni and Friends, pavilion fund, Harlan Funeral Home, U.S. Air Force, Sears & Roebuck, Joan Bird, Sharon Elizabeth (Calloway) Bird, Mary Ruth Bird, Harlan Honor Guard


Ray Bird’s role as president of the Class of 1949 marked a historical moment in the history of the Pine Mountain Settlement School. He officiated over the last class to graduate during the  Boarding School era. After closing the Boarding School in 1949, the institution reorganized to accommodate the consolidation of five one-room county elementary schools at Pine Mountain. The May 1949 issue of the student literary publication, CONIFER, includes a list of the Class of 1949 students, their class photograph, and the Senior Prayer.

During his student days, Ray served as business manager and printer for The Pine Cone, a student newsletter from October 1948 through February 1949. He acquired his printing skills when on assignment to the print shop as part of the School’s work-study program. Ray describes this work experience in his narrative, “My Work in the Print Shop,” which appeared in the December 1948 – January 1949 issue, page 13:


Last year the co-ops and the juniors took printing. I was lucky enough, as one other junior, to get to work in the print shop.

I worked in the shop for eighteen weeks last year and have worked there already this year about five weeks. Because of the difficulties in finding a printing instructor, I have only part-time work in both the woodworking department and the print shop.

This year I was given the responsibility for one really important job, the Pine Mountain Notes, which are sent out to the friends of the school who are on our mailing list. In addition to this work, I have filled several orders for large envelopes.

Though I enjoy my work, still it is rather hard for one person to work in the print shop and keep it running all the time.

— Ray Bird, Senior

RAY BIRD: Alumnus & Advisory Board Chair

In later years, Ray Bird often returned to the School as a visiting alumnus according to several Alumni Newsletters in the 1980s. Besides serving as Chair of the PMSS Advisory Board in the late 1990s, he was the President of the Pine Mountain Association of Alumni and Friends and a member for many years. In 1997 he was elected to represent the alumni at the Board of Trustees’ meetings.

RAY BIRD: His Career

Ray Bird Student Board

Ray Bird at the 2013 Centennial celebration. [burkhard_ centennial_043.jpg]

According to his obituary, published in 2021 by the Harlan Funeral Home on the legacy.com website, 

Ray retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Master Sergeant after 22 years in the communications squadron. He traveled throughout Germany, Iceland to the Azores, and many of the United States in between with five children in tow whenever possible. He managed the NCO Club in Alaska during his off time. He always sponsored younger men in the Air Force, bringing them home for dinner and hauling them ice fishing in Michigan or deep sea fishing in the Azores. He was respected by all who met him. Ray stayed active after his retirement from the military managing the Sears in Whitesburg before retiring from there after 18 years. 

RAY BIRD: His Family

Ray Bird was born in Harlan County on December 30, 1932, to Cephas Bates Bird (1874-1945) and Mollie Jane (Garrison) Bird (1895-1951). Ray had many siblings, including Gertrude, Viola, Buster, Cleophus, Thomas A., Shelby, Charles Bailey, Effie, Lorene, Clara, Fred, Mildred Jean, Mary Ruth, Ted, Yvonne, and Joe Bird.

Ray’s sister, Mary Ruth Bird, is recorded as having attended Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1944 -1947. (See Gallery II below.)

Ray was first married to Joan Bird, who died in 1997. They had five children: Robert, Douglas, Amelia, Gary, and Mitchell. He later married Sharon Elizabeth (Calloway) Bird and three stepchildren were added to his family: Angie, Donnie, and Renee.


Ray Bird died on August 26, 2021 at the age of 88. He was buried in the Monte Vista Cemetery at Cumberland with military rites by the Harlan Honor Guard.

[NOTE: The Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections of ALUMNI ORAL HISTORIES AND VIDEO includes an oral history presented by Ray Bird.]

GALLERY I: RAY BIRD Student Advisory

(Mary Ruth Bird)


Ray Bird

Alt. Title

Raymond Bird




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Ray Bird ; students ; Advisory Board ; Class of 1949 ; boarding schools ; CONIFER ; The Pine Cone ; printers ; print shop ; alumni ; Association of Alumni and Friends of the Pine Mountain Settlement School ; pavilion fund ; Harlan Funeral Home ; U.S. Air Force ; Sears & Roebuck ; Joan Bird ; Sharon Elizabeth (Calloway) Bird ; Mary Ruth Bird, Harlan Honor Guard

Subject LCSH

Bird, Ray, — 1932 – 2021.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2021-09-30 aae


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet.


Series 09: Biography and Series 19: Students.




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography and Series 19: Students.

Coverage Temporal

1874 – 2021

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Germany ; Iceland ; the Azores ; Alaska ; Michigan ; Whitesburg, KY ; Cumberland, KY ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Ray Bird ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Ray Bird ;




“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated


”Ray Bird.” Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

“Ray’s Obituary.” https://www.legacy.com/funeral-homes/obituaries/name/ray-bird-obituary?pid=199947991&v=batesville&view=guestbook ; Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1920”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH2X-M5D : 30 September 2021), Cephas B Bird, 1920. Internet resource.

“United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKT6-XCKB : accessed 26 September 2021), Ray Bird in entry for Douglas Bird, Kentucky, United States, 27 Sep 2007; from “Recent Newspaper Obituaries (1977 – Today),” database, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com : 2014); citing Harlan Daily Enterprise, The, born-digital text. Internet resource.

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