Stanford Superfan

John A. "Jack" Laird Jr., '40

January/February 2016

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Stanford Superfan

Photo: Courtesy Stanford Athletics

Jack Laird was known as "Superfan" because he was a fixture at Stanford football games. He was also associate director of development for the Stanford Athletic Department for four decades and a fervent fund-raiser and supporter of Stanford football and basketball. Laird traveled to games outfitted in Cardinal regalia, drove a red sports car bearing license plates that read "ZAP SC" and, between 1970 and 2008, attended 444 consecutive Stanford football games.

John A. "Jack" Laird Jr., '40, died on September 1. He was 98 and lived in Pleasanton, Calif.

Laird enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He joined Pan American Airways after the war and then flew for American Airlines, which had a contract with the Air Force to fly from Travis Air Force Base to Japan during the Korean War.

When Pan Am closed most of its operations at San Francisco International Airport in the 1960s, Laird returned to the Farm and accepted a job in the development department. Athletic Director Chuck Taylor, '43, MA '47, recruited Laird to become the first full-time fund-raiser for the department. Laird also served as the administrator of the Buck Club, now called the Buck/Cardinal Club, raising money for athletic scholarships. Throughout this time, he continued to fly in an Air Force Reserve unit, and in 1968, he was called to duty to fly transports during the Vietnam War.

Matt Doyle, senior associate athletics director and director of football operations at Stanford, recalled, "Jack Laird was an accomplished Army pilot, airline pilot and adventurer. He created the Starting 11, which raised significant funds for the football program and kept our donors and alumni well informed throughout the year. He traveled with us to away games, talking to donors and telling stories."

Laird's daughter, Kathy Bunn, said, "Stanford was everything to my dad. And I thought it was just a part of life to go to football games, rain or shine. Even in 2013, when Stanford went to the Rose Bowl and Dad's health was failing, I bought tickets and we went, and I'm so glad we did."

After Laird retired in 1987, he continued to raise money for Stanford football. A lover of animals, he always had a dog. During a safari in Africa, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro; he also climbed Mount Fuji, the Grand Tetons, Mount Hood and to the base camp of Mount Everest.

In addition to his daughter, Laird is survived by one grandson and two great-grandchildren.

Julie Muller Mitchell, '79, is a writer in San Francisco.

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