Hugh Baird

Obituary of Hugh H. Baird

Hugh H. Baird, of Centerville, MA, long-time resident of Binghamton, NY and a native of Sayre, PA, passed away surrounded by his loving family on August 28, 2019 at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY, he was 79.


Born on March 2, 1940 to the late William H. and Lora Baird, Hugh was a graduate from Sayre High School in 1958 where he starred on the high school basketball team. Hugh graduated from Lafayette College in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts in Geology. While serving in the U.S. Army Reserves (1962-68), he obtained a Master’s Degree in Education from Elmira College in 1968. 


A lifelong educator, he began his career teaching Chemistry at Elmira Free Academy and spent the majority of his career at Union Endicott High School where he taught Earth Science before retiring from the profession in 1998.


As anyone who knew Hugh remembers, his passion was motorsports. At an early age, Hugh developed a strong interest in automobile racing, beginning as a fan and progressing to an accomplished motorsports photographer. In the latter capacity, he traveled around the world covering Indy and Formula One type races. Always a historian of the sport, Hugh was happiest telling stories behind the scenes of his racing photographs and will be remembered by many for the photos he sold to drivers, teams and fans which often appeared in various publications, including the Binghamton Press & Sun- Bulletin and auto racing memoirs.

Like many race fans, he was passionate about the Indianapolis 500 and witnessed his first 500 in 1961. He subsequently attended and covered the race for close to 50 years. One of his proudest accomplishments was becoming a member of the Indianapolis 500 Old-Timers’ Association, an organization that is exclusive to media members and participants with 20 or more years of involvement with the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.


Hugh is survived by his devoted wife of 51 years, Gretchen (Bogart), children and their spouses; Bridget (Baird) and Mark Francescone of Needham, MA, Bryan Baird of Portland, OR, and Tyler and Erica (Anderson) Baird of Charlotte, NC. He was a loving PopPop/Papa to his 8 grandchildren; Jonathan Francescone (12), Isabel Francescone (9), Rowan Baird (8), Myles Baird (8), Avery Baird (6), Henry Baird (6), Oliver Baird (4), and Ashton Baird (1). He is survived by many nieces and nephews, and their families; Jeff Baird of Fountain Hill, PA, Scott and Lisa Baird of Sayre, PA, Lori and Doug Clark of Syracuse, NY, James and Kathy Bogart of Geneva, NY, Catherine and James Bones of Auckland N.Z., and Michael and Katrina Bogart of Framingham, MA. He is also survived by his his brother-in-law Donald Bogart of Phelps, NY and sister-in-law Constance Keller of Fort Myers, FL.


Hugh was predeceased by his parents William and Lora Baird, his brother William H. Baird and sister-in-law Shirley Baird.


Family and friends may call on Saturday, September 7, 2019 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Jay E. Lowery Funeral Home, 225 South Main Street, Athens, PA. Funeral Services will follow at the funeral home at 12 p.m. Burial will follow in Tioga Point Cemetery, Athens, PA.


The Baird family wishes to thank the 4th Floor Cardiac ICU and Palliative Care unit staff at Strong Memorial Hospital and all who cared for Hugh during his illness. The family will always remember how wonderful we were treated and the care and compassion that Hugh received.


In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Hugh’s name to the: Watkins Glen Motor Racing Research Council, Inc. DBA International Motor Racing Research Center, 610 South Decatur Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891