Obituary: Max L. Laird

Jan. 17, 1951 – Sept. 12, 2019 

Max L. Laird, 68, of Baileys Harbor and formerly of Grand Forks and Bismarck, North Dakota, died at the Door County Medical Center in Sturgeon Bay.

He was born in Algona, Iowa, the son of Leon and Dorothy (Hansell) Laird. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Iowa in Ames, where he earned his bachelor of science and master’s degrees in exercise physiology. After working as a sports trainer for a professional baseball team and for a university, he went to Grand Forks to be the head sports trainer for the Grand Forks Public Schools. This eventually led to a teaching position in the district. 

On May 23, 1981, Max was united in marriage with Gayle Marie Johnson in Grand Forks, North Dakota. For more than 30 years, he was an educator in Grand Forks, spending the last 20 years of his career at Community High School. Max was both an advocate and mentor for his students, colleagues and friends.

Max was a communicator who loved attending and running meetings. During his professional life, he was on the board of directors for the Minnesota and North Dakota Chapter Alzheimer’s Association, director of the YMCA, president of the North Dakota Education Association, and township treasurer. He enjoyed volunteering for the Red Cross, Girl Scouts of America, Northland Rescue Mission and FEMA. He was a proud member of College Accreditation Committees and the Athletic Trainers Association.

Max loved fishing, hunting, aviation, sports and talking politics. He began traveling to Door County 15 years ago for salmon fishing and stayed for the love of the community, eventually retiring in Baileys Harbor.

Max will be missed by his wife, Gayle; sister-in-law, Linda Oswald; niece, Ashley Oswald; and many loving friends and neighbors.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Leon and Dorothy Laird; and brother-in-law, Robert Oswald.

A memorial service to honor Max’s life will be held Friday, Sept. 27, at Alexander’s restaurant, 3667 Hwy 42 in Fish Creek, beginning at 11 am, with Pastor Ken Carlson officiating. An additional memorial service will be held at Community High School, 500 Stanford Road, Grand Forks, ND, on Oct. 5, 10 am.

In lieu of flowers, consider a memorial in Max’s name to the Grand Forks Foundation for Education. Another option is the Door County Community Foundation, where plans are being formulated for an education endowment.

Max’s family wishes to extend a heartfelt thank-you to the staff at Unity Hospice and the Door County Medical Center for their professionalism and care. A special thank-you goes out to the entire community of Baileys Harbor for their support during this difficult time.

Huehns Funeral Home and Door County Crematory in Sturgeon Bay are assisting the Laird family. Expressions of sympathy, memories and photos of Max can be shared through his tribute page at

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