January 15, 1927 – September 25, 2019
Roger Birdsell Jr., 92, of South Bend, Indiana, died September 25, 2019, at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana. Mr. Birdsell was born January 15, 1927, in Racine, Wisconsin to the late Roger Sr. and Ruth Mary (Hudson) Birdsell.
He Graduated from Beloit Wisconsin High School in 1944. He served in the Army from 1945-1946. In 1949, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors, from Swarthmore Pennsylvania College. He earned a Master’s in Business Administration from Michigan State University in 1971.
Mr. Birdsell was married November 11, 1961, to Helen Schapiro. She died March 13, 2010.
Survivors include 2 stepsons, James Allen frazin, of Oakland California, and Lewis Ralph Frazin, of Carmichael California; two grandsons, Justin Ezra (Melody) Frazin, of Burr Oak Michigan, and Ethan Amanda) Frazin, of Palm Springs California; 4 great-grandchildren, Kelsey Anne and Kaitlyn Helen Frazin, Lux Anfares Balmage frazin, and Leona sol Balmage Frazin. He is also survived by 2 sisters, Pamela Lee (Clarence) deSpain, of Madison Wisconsin, and Helen Margaret Tucker, of Kalamazoo Michigan; 2 sister in laws, Judith Bird,sell of Bartlett Illinois, and Eva lowery, of Michigan, and several nieces and nephews.
Mr. Birdsell began a news-paper writing and editing career in 1950 with the Eau-Claire, Wisconsin Leader. He joined the staff of the South Bend Tribune in 1953 where his principal assignment until 1967, was reporting on local education, including the South Bend public and parochial schools, Indiana University at South Bend, University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College. He won a national Education Writers Association award in 1967, and the annual School Bell award of the Indiana State teacher’s Association in 1968. In 1968, he moved from his education assignment to reporting on St. Joseph County government through 1970.
Mr. Birdsell left the Tribune in 1971, and moved to Indianapolis to except appointment as an Indiana assistant state superintendent of public instruction position under the administration of John J. Laughlin. His duties included oversight of the divisions of teacher certification and licensing, schoolhouse planning, vocational education, local school reorganization and a proposed reorganization of the public instruction department.
Mr. Birdsell returned to South Bend in 1973, taking a position with the community development program of the Associates Corporation of North America. Under this program he organized the nonprofit North Central Indiana Medical Education Foundation that supported establishment of Indiana University school of Medicine first and second-year classes hosted by the University of Notre Dame and family practice residency programs at Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph medical Center. He was also involved in regional economic development initiatives particularly the development of the South Bend airport as a regional hub for inter-city air, train, and bus services
Mr. Birdsell was hired in 1978 by Memorial Hospital to develop its new community relations program. He later, as the vice president of Memorial health system organized Memorial Health Foundation to manage gifts solicitations and endowment funds in support of the hospital. Mr. Birdsell retired from memorial in 1991. Upon retirement, he accepted the part-time position of executive director of the Michiana Jewish historical Society, researching the history of the local Jewish community and publishing the results, including a history of the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley.
Mr. Burtsell was active for many years and Presbyterian players serving as president and in other offices, directing several plays for the community theater. He was a past president of the South Bend press club directing several of the club’s annual gridiron show satirical skits. He was a past vice president and board member of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. Other community memberships and activities included: The South Bend Lions Club past president, Northern Indiana History Center, South Bend Museum of Art, Scholarship Foundation of St. Joseph County, Junior achievement, and South Bend civic planning Association. Mr. Birdsell was a member and past trustee of the first Unitarian Church of South Bend. Golf and reading were among his leisure activities.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 28, 2019, at First Unitarian Church, 801 East Washington St. South Bend, Indiana, at 10 AM.
A graveside service for Mr. Birdsell will be held at the Birdsell family plot at East Lawn Monument Cemetery, in Beloit, Wisconsin, at a later date.