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Beloved artist remembered by Bay City community

By Trevor Sochocki, James Paxson

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    BAY CITY, Michigan (WNEM) — Bay City is paying their respects to a longtime fixture in the local arts community.

They are mourning the loss of Leeds Bird, whose impact on the Bay City arts scene spans decades.

“It’s going to be hard to imagine life without him. He’s been such a big part of most of our lives. The theater here, the arts community,” said friend Kurt Miller.

Family, friends, and colleagues remember Leeds Bird as a giant in the Bay City arts community.

“Leeds was the most gentle man I think I ever knew. And I always joked about him, his ability to tell a five-minute story in 20 minutes. And all the details were fun, that was the fun part about it,” Miller said.

Miller is one those colleagues. They worked together at Bay City Players.

“I used to joke that he had forgotten more about theater than the rest of us knew. Not sure if all that was true, but it sure seemed like it,” Miller said.

Miller and Leeds acted together. Miller directed him, and they grew close as family friends.

“It’s already happened to me several times over the past couple of days where I’ll say, ‘oh, that thing, I should tell — oh wait a minute.’ it’s one of those kind of things, I think he’d enjoy it,” Miller said.

Leeds’ name is everywhere in the historical books at the theater.

“You really can’t touch the arts in this area without finding Leeds’ effect on it someplace,” Miller said.

Leeds legacy lives on with his wife Margaret and his many nieces and nephews.

“But I think he would like to be remembered for having done his best to provide a really well balanced and comprehensive experience for people as they came to the theater and experience the arts throughout the community,” Miller said.

If there is one way to do that, it is playing his music.

Leeds wrote the lyrics for a song in the “Carol of the Birds.”

He and Kevin Cole directed in the musical in 2018, performed by Rebecca Smith, one of the three original shows produced in Leeds’ lifetime.

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