WJB opened it's doors in 1975 and followed in the tradition of Lebanon High School by using the Blue Devils as its mascot. The Blue Devil mascot is in honor of the World War I French 2nd infantry, an elite group trained to operate in mountainous terrain and in urban warfare.
Walter Jackson Baird
July 3, 1873 - February 16, 1980
He collected his own insurance policy, took an airplane ride on his 100th birthday, was the oldest living active Rotarian, and probably helped more young married couples own their own homes than any other person who ever lived in Wilson County.
Born near Baird's Mill on July 3, 1873, he grew up with ambitions to be a railway mail clerk and took his first job in the I. B. Castleman general store at Gladeville because the post office was located there. Gladeville then contained about 100 inhabitants, three stores, two blacksmith shops, two churches, a woodworking shop, Woodrum's saddlery, and a high school. While he worked he studied for the civil service examination and he passed. Openings for railway mail clerks were scarce and he went home to wait. Meanwhile Robert Fakes heard about this ambitious young man and offered to sell him his store at Holloway. Young Baird bought it and, because it contained the post office, became a postmaster. He also established a produce wagon route to Nashville. In 1903 Rural Free Delivery was established and the post office was closed. The main attraction having been removed, he sold the store and thought about moving West. Instead he moved to Lebanon and took a job as bookkeeper for McClain Brothers, then went into partnership with Porter McClain as Cash Dry Goods Company.
In 1914 Frank Stratton asked Walter Baird to become cashier of the Union Bank & Trust Company. He remained until its merger with the Commerce Union system in 1923, then became a merchant again, buying the hardware store owned by H. W. Cook, whose building had burned in November 1923. Meanwhile, the State Building & Loan Association had been formed in 1929 and Baird became its office manager in 1934. He became president and, upon retirement from active business, chairman of the board until his death. He also was a partner in Tennessee Hereford Farms; member of the 10th district school board; trustee of Cumberland University; donor with his wife, Ethel Bouton Baird, of the restored chapel at Memorial Hall which was then named Baird Chapel. An elder of the Presbyterian Church and choir member, he attended several of the Billy Graham Crusades after he became 90 years old. On his 100th birthday in 1973 he was honored by receiving a letter from President Nixon, recognition from Governor Dunn, and a proclamation by Mayor Willis H. Maddox. The new junior high school was named Walter J. Baird Junior High School. He died February 16, 1980, in his 107th year.
Tennessee County History Series: Wilson County
written by Frank Burns
written by Frank Burns
Painting by Rusty Vanhook