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Carmen: Okay. My name is Carmen Bolt. I'm here at the Virginia Tech Alumni Center, and I'm interviewing today on October 9, 2015 Mr.?

Judge D. Bird: Judge Danny Bird, Danny W. Bird from Wytheville, Virginia. I serve as a judge and retired in the 27th Judicial Circuit, State Court of Virginia.

Carmen: Excellent. If you don't mind just starting out by telling me where you were born, how you were raised.

Judge D. Bird: All right. I was born in Bland, Virginia in Bland County, and was raised on a dairy farm. We used to milk about 100 cows a day. I remember getting up early in the morning 5 or 5:30 and getting the dairy cows in the barn, milking from about 6 to 8 and then coming up and taking a shower and cleaning up and breakfast. My mom would always 1:00have a great breakfast with blackberry jam and biscuits and sausage and eggs. So I had a great growing up in a working family, a dairy farm in Bland County Virginia.

Carmen: Also maybe having those biscuits and jam made it a little easier to wake up so early.

Judge D. Bird: Oh yes, I always looked forward to that, and I miss it now that of course my mom is gone and so forth, but those were great days. And I participated in 4H, FFA, and that's where I came to state conventions in Blacksburg, Virginia from the time I was 6 or 7 years old through high school and always wanted... My goal in life was to become a student and a graduate of Virginia Tech.

Carmen: I guess you made that dream a reality huh?

Judge D. Bird: That is correct.


Carmen: So you were saying that that kind of had been your dream all along, thinking about going to college?

Judge D. Bird: Yes. I had two uncles who served in World War II and they both were graduates of Virginia Tech. I was commissioned an officer in the Army after serving four years in the Tech Corps of Cadets, so I really enjoyed it and that was my goal. I did realize my goal. I served in the Army then really for about 15 years, only a couple of years on active duty but the rest of the time as a reserved Army officer.

Carmen: Because you had family members who had come here and you came up to 4H conventions it was just a given; it had to be Virginia Tech?

Judge D. Bird: Yes, that's right, 4H and FFA. I served in 1956-57, which was my first year at Virginia Tech as a rat in the Cadet Corps; I served as State President of the Virginia FFA Association. It got its start really from Henry C. 3:00Groseclose who was a professor at Virginia Tech and from Bland County, so I got to know him real well and I had a great year speaking to FFA, FHA banquets throughout the State.

Carmen: That's excellent. So you have always kind of had your hands in everything. You have always been a roll haven't you?

Judge D. Bird: That is correct. I always have stayed active and I never enjoyed doing nothing. I always enjoyed to be doing something, even if it's reading, whatever. I try to stay active.

Carmen: I think I'm kind of the same way, but maybe at some point I will just go downhill. We'll see.

Judge D. Bird: You'll stay active I'm sure.

Carmen: Well you're encouraging me to now. Can you tell me about your first memories of being at Virginia Tech, maybe what it smelled like, what it 4:00looked like?

Judge D. Bird: Well yes. I can remember as a young grade school, high school student my uncles come into Bland, into our home with their capes, the Virginia Tech Cadet Corps capes.

Carmen: They still wear those.

Judge D. Bird: It was so impressive, so my first year at Virginia Tech in the Cadet Corps I thought was the toughest year of my life, because I was traveling, speaking to different high schools and banquets and so forth at FFA and FHA as State President, and also trying to... And I was going through the rat line at Virginia Tech and in those days it went until spring quarter, so it was a tough year and 5:00hard on me. But looking back I've told many people even my college roommate who is coming up to Tech today to meet me to go to the football tonight against NC State, I told him it was the best year of our lives, it really was. We bonded together with our classmates. Those in the Cadet Corps in the rat line have stayed friends our entire life. Of course we've lost a few over the years. I graduated from Tech in 1960, so it's been some and it's hard to lose your friends, but when you get up our age about 77 you do lose some of your best friends.

Carmen: I think it's pretty incredible that you just stay friends so long though, despite going off in different directions. I'm sure everyone moved kind of everywhere, but do you come back for games together and see each other 6:00at reunions?

Judge D. Bird: Yes. And Carmen I remember our 50-Year Reunion some of our guys had spent most of their time overseas you know, in the Army or different wars that we've fought over the years and so forth. So I saw a lot of our Hokie classmates at our 50-Year Reunion that I hadn't seen for 50 years, but it was just like we were together yesterday.

Carmen: You picked it up right where you left off.

Judge D. Bird: Picked it up right away, and now that they are retired we do stay in touch, so it's really great.

Carmen: That's very inspirational actually. I guess you foster relationships at Virginia Tech that just really...

Judge D. Bird: All of us had such a love and respect for Virginia Tech, and I have tried to motivate my kids and also other children. I used to as a State Senator write letters, 150 letters a year to Virginia Tech to try to 7:00help them get into the school, and I've never known anybody that went to Virginia Tech that didn't love and respect Virginia Tech. The professors, the faculty, the staff, just everything about Virginia Tech, and once you're a Hokie you're a Hokie for life.

Carmen: I absolutely agree. Obviously I'm not far enough out to really look back on it, but the way I feel now and still being hear after six years I can see this being something that continues for the rest of my life.

Judge D. Bird: That's right. It's just a bond and my best day is when I'm coming to Virginia Tech, like today.

Carmen: Today is a good day.

Judge D. Bird: Yeah.

Carmen: Until football game day.

Judge D. Bird: That's right.

Carmen: It's a good day indeed. You kind of mentioned the professors and kind of the way you fostered relationships that freshman year. Do you think there's 8:00anything else specifically about Virginia Tech that really allows for that kind of community to rise?

Judge D. Bird: Yes. I was in the College of Agriculture and majored in Dairy Science, growing up on a dairy farm and I had always planned on going back to the dairy farm. Actually we had a dairy farm for 55 years. The last 15 years I've had the farm it's a beef cattle farm, so I don't have to milk cows twice a day. But anyway, we had small classes, and Professor Paul M. Reeves, one of the buildings, and George Litton, Litton Reeves Building, they were outstanding professors, outstanding. They had such a good rapport with the students. Dr. G. C. Graf was head of the Dairy Science Department. 9:00Dean Dietrich was our Dean of the College of Agriculture and they were just all outstanding people and cared about their students and kept up with us throughout life. Here I am 55 years later and just still think the world of them, although they are deceased. I know they're up in Heaven pulling for us.

Carmen: There's always room for the Hokies, that's right.

Judge D. Bird: Right.

Carmen: Did you feel like any of those were specifically maybe your mentor or advisor?

Judge D. Bird: Oh yes, yes. They were great mentors and advisors. Of course my dad was a dairy farmer. He came up in depression times and he didn't have the advantage of a college education, but he was a great mentor and so were my Tech professors. 10:00My FFA advisor and local agriculture teacher in Bland was Ralph Reynolds. He was also a Hokie and he was a great mentor.

Carmen: So many Hokies. They're everywhere aren't they?

Judge D. Bird: That's right. We have Hokie blood running through our veins.

Carmen: That's right. Did you say your children went to Tech?

Judge D. Bird: Yes. I have three children grown and two of them went to Virginia Tech. My daughter Jenny she was in the class of 90 and she majored in Business Marketing in Pamplin College of Business, and my son Woody majored in Finance, so he's a financial advisor in Richmond, Virginia. Jenny is in Philadelphia. My other son I tell people didn't necessarily want an education, so he went to VMI. [Laughs]


Carmen: A little different experience huh?

Judge D. Bird: And he's the one that majored in history at VMI. He's now a colonel so he's done well. He's a colonel in the Army, a battalion commander in Fort Lewis Washington.

Carmen: That's excellent. So everybody is a little spread out. Are you able to travel and see?

Judge D. Bird: Sometimes, but not a whole lot now. I do want to get out to Fort Lewis Washington and Seattle and see my son and his family. I have seven grandchildren, and of course I'm encouraging all of them to go to Virginia Tech. My 17-year-old, the oldest grandson has just applied for admission to Virginia Tech and he lives up in Philadelphia, so I'm hoping and praying he'll be a Hokie.

Carmen: That will be an exciting moment for you all won't it?

Judge D. Bird: Yes it will be, yes.

Carmen: So when you're speaking with your grandchildren or your children do you 12:00have any favorite memories or special moments you tell them about?

Judge D. Bird: Well they all call me Hokie Pawpaw. [Laughs] From the time they could speak they've always called me Hokie Pawpaw. I tell them and my kids do tell them too that we have Hokie blood orange and maroon running in our veins, so they're all very much encouraged to attend Virginia Tech, and they know about Virginia Tech because they've been here many many many times.

Carmen: As you tell them that are there any specific moments that just stand out to you, maybe having to trudge across the drill field in a snowfall in a winter wind or something like that?

Judge D. Bird: On yes. I lived up in Monteith Hall, which the furthest way from campus that you can get to the College of Agriculture and the Dairy Science Building 13:00down at Saunders Hall. Anyway, I had many many incidents of that and in the winter time we didn't have walkways in our day. We didn't want them because we were drilling on the field and the Cadet Corps didn't want the walkways. So we would swash through snow and mud to get across the drill field, so there were many many times that that occurred.

Carmen: I think that's something that every Hokie can relate to, that bitter wind cutting across the drill field. But you're right, we do have those pathways now, I guess saved many a shoe from some mud.

Judge D. Bird: That's exactly, and I don't blame the students for having the walkways because it is easier. But back in our day in the 50s we didn't want the walkways. They tried to put them in and we said "no".

Carmen: It would interfere with the drilling?

Judge D. Bird: Yes, right.

Carmen: So that's one thing that's changed about Tech since you were here. What else do you notice that's really a substantial change?


Judge D. Bird: We only had about 100 girls in the student body that lived in Hillcrest Dorm. We called it the Skirt Barn [laughs] and when I came in '56 we had about 3,500 students, about 2,500 on campus in the Cadet Corps. The others were commuters and the girls at Hillcrest. Virginia Tech today with over 30,000 students is an entirely different University from what it was back in our day.

Carmen: It's definitely kind of blown up in size.

Judge D. Bird: Yes, and I think it's improved. I think everything we've done at Virginia Tech over the years under presence from Dr. Newman forward had been certainly nothing but progress. And I think it's good that we have about as many girls on campus now as we have guys. I wish it were that way back then. [Laughs]


Carmen: Only 100 you said up there in Hillcrest.

Judge D. Bird: That's right.

Carmen: That's not quite the same ratio as it is now.

Judge D. Bird: No. Date night most of the time we would have to go to Radford, which was a division of Virginia Tech at that time, Radford College. Now Radford is an entirely different school too.

Carmen: So you had to do commuter dating back then because there just wasn't a big demographic.

Judge D. Bird: And in the Cadet Corps you could only get a pass maybe for up until 11 o'clock on a Saturday night on Saturdays. There was only one day a week that we had a chance to get off campus really.

Carmen: That's right. On the rest of the days were you able to go into what is now the downtown area? I'm not familiar with what it was like.

Judge D. Bird: Yes, but we had to wear our uniforms at all times, and if you got caught off campus or on campus in civilian clothes you got demerits. You had to walk them off, so it was tough. You didn't want to get 15 demerits or more for 16:00wearing civilian clothes so you wore your Cadet clothes. And after graduating from Virginia Tech I remember going into the Army and I didn't have hardly any civilian clothes at all. All I had was my Army uniform. [Laughs]

Carmen: I guess after so many years of just wearing non-civilian clothes you would just be accustomed to it at that point.

Judge D. Bird: That's right, and that's what we had. Now I had farm clothes that I wore on the farm in the summertime making hay.

Carmen: A different wardrobe.

Judge D. Bird: That's right.

Carmen: Was there any food at the dining halls? You know Tech has this big reputation now of the best food of all the colleges. What was it like?

Judge D. Bird: Tech used to complain, our students used to complain about the mess hall. We called it the mess hall, but really the food was great at Virginia Tech back in the 50s and 17:0060s. I thought the food was great. And they had all the milk you could drink raised right here on the farm, and I grew up on a dairy farm so I loved the milk. I had no complaints about the food, but there were some that did and I remember one year when I was Regimental Manager of the Corps it was my senior year, that was in '59 or '60, all the Cadets lined up beforehand and they went in, and after they went through the buffet line they dumped food just over on the table. This was a terrible thing to do because the food like I said was good. Anyway, so we had to deal with that. I can't remember exactly what we did. I think we gave demerits for doing that, but anyway, the whole Cadet Corps did it, so everybody had to suffer.


Carmen: That's a lot of cleaning up isn't it?

Judge D. Bird: Oh yes.

Carmen: Was that a sign of kind of resistance against the food?

Judge D. Bird: Yes, that's what it was. But we had a great chef, a head man, Mr. Howard King. I just happened to remember his name and I thought he did a wonderful job and I thought the food was out of this- really good, and it still is as you know.

Carmen: I cannot complain. Not having be at home and cook my own food, I can just go to a dining hall and pick it up. I will not take that for granted.

Judge D. Bird: That's right.

Carmen: So you remember the food being really wonderful. Were there any big events that happened during your time at Tech that you recall?

Judge D. Bird: Well, in the Cadet Corps we always had a great rivalry with VMI. The biggest game was a Thanksgiving Day game. VPI versus VMI at Victory Stadium 19:00in Roanoke, Virginia, and we would go on the old Huckleberry Train to the game. And sometimes the VMI Cadets would come down before the game and grease the rails so that old Huckleberry couldn't get up the mountain, the Christiansburg Mountain. So one time we had to get out and help push the train up the mountain. But anyway, one year one of the companies in the Cadet Corps when I was Regimental Commander, abducted a VMI keydet in Lexington, Virginia at VMI and kept him in their barracks for a whole week. At the VPI VMI game at halftime released him with not many clothes on, no shirt or anything. It was cold in November, 20:00less in November in those days. Anyway, they had a big article about that in the Roanoke and Richmond papers and editorialized who's in charge at Virginia Tech that let them abduct a student. I guess they would put us in jail today for doing that. But anyway, it was just a prank. It was a college prank, but they did, they kept him for a whole week. And then I know of instances where Tech Cadets after that were abducted a day or two before the game and they did the same thing at VMI, so it was a little give and take on both sides.

Carmen: Back and forth, I guess that kind of fired up that rivalry too though.

Judge D. Bird: Oh yes, it did.

Carmen: Wow. So mainly the only thing that happened after that was just some back and forth in the papers?

Judge D. Bird: Yeah, that's about all. What can they do really? It was a college prank and they recognized it as such. It sort of blew over after a couple of 21:00weeks.

Carmen: That is wild. That is a wild memory. I don't have any memories like that.

Judge D. Bird: [Laughs]

Carmen: Were you a part of that? Were you a part of the hostage situation?

Judge D. Bird: No, I was not a part of that. I was a Regimental Commander at the time and I had to reprimand the Cadet company that pulled that off, but of course we behind the scenes laughed about it.

Carmen: I'm sure. Wow. I wonder if anything goes on like that today. I haven't heard of anything.

Judge D. Bird: I haven't heard of anything quite like that, or it hasn't hit the newspapers. It might be but I haven't heard of it.

Carmen: I wonder if the rivalries kind of died down between VMI and Tech at this point.

Judge D. Bird: Probably so. We still play them in basketball. We don't play them in football. We play them in basketball and baseball. As a matter of fact, they've come up with a pretty good baseball team. It's still a good 22:00rivalry. Like I said, one of my sons went to VMI, so he calls us damn Hokies, but that's what we are. We are Hokies. But yeah, we still have the rivalry but not as great as it was back in the 50s and 60s.

Carmen: Do you think maybe some other teams have come in as rivals now?

Judge D. Bird: Oh yeah, UVA, yeah.

Carmen: It's those Virginia teams going at each other. That's what it's about huh?

Judge D. Bird: That's right. That's right.

Carmen: It's part of the sport.

Judge D. Bird: Part of the sport.

Carmen: That is a pretty wild memory though, and having to push the train up the mountain.

Judge D. Bird: Yeah, get out and...

Carmen: I can't imagine what that was like.

Judge D. Bird: Well that would make us late for marching in to the stadium and of course that tickled the heck out of VMI keydets that they had pulled that off. [Laughs] There was a lot of give and take like I say, but it was fun. We had fun doing it.


Carmen: That's great. It sounds like your experience was it a very enjoyable time.

Judge D. Bird: A lot of times people would say, "I don't want to go to VPI at Virginia Tech, there's nothing to do." Well, Lord we had all kinds of things to do. I know one time when I was in the Tower as the Regimental Commander they tried to throw me in the duck pond. That was another tradition that they throw the Regimental Commander in the duck pond. That happened in the spring of my senior year, so a whole company of Cadets, or rats mostly, freshmen, 25 or 30 of them would come up and throw the Regimental Commander in the duck pond.

Carmen: Did they succeed in getting you into the duck pond?

Judge D. Bird: They got me part of the way down there, but not all the way.

Carmen: You weren't going down without a fight were you?

Judge D. Bird: That's right. I was fighting all the way. [Laughs]

Carmen: The Corps it seems had a lot of traditions.


Judge D. Bird: Yes, oh yes.

Carmen: Do you remember anything going on in the larger campus at that time?

Judge D. Bird: Well yes. The civilian student body had their own things and we had ring dance. Back in those days the Cadet Corps we had raised sabers and you see pictures of the Cadet Corps Ring Dance where the civilians had their own ring dance.

Carmen: Oh, so they were separate?

Judge D. Bird: They were separate, in separate places. It was the same weekend but separate places, so it was a good time. We didn't interfere with the civilian student body and they didn't interfere with us.

Carmen: What about, and this is just one of my memories, but every year on the first big snowfall there's a civilian cadet snowball fight. It's big and they usually knocked us all out. Was 25:00that something you took part in?

Judge D. Bird: Oh yeah, we always did that. That was fun. We would even come out and have that snowball fight. We also had panty raids on Hillcrest, and that was a fun time too.

Carmen: Were those always successful?

Judge D. Bird: Uh, sometimes yes and sometimes not so successful. Yeah. [Laughs]

Carmen: You all were sneaky it sounds like.

Judge D. Bird: You could get hurt because those gals didn't like putting up with that.

Carmen: That's right I'm sure. They probably put up a strong defense.

Judge D. Bird: Oh yes, most definitely right.

Carmen: Wow. I guess a little bit has changed in that way as well. Well maybe it's just because I never hear about anything. That stuff can still be going on.

Judge D. Bird: Well the student body now is so diversified really, so you don't have an all-girl 26:00dorm or all-boy dorm or something like that, so it makes a difference.

Carmen: I guess with this many students and still getting more every year that's kind of where it has to go.

Judge D. Bird: That's right. And there will be a lot more students in the years to come I'm sure.

Carmen: That's what I've heard, that they are just trying to get more and more every year, and you know what? I don't think they would have to try that hard because I really think that...

Judge D. Bird: People want to come, that's right.

Carmen: There's something about it.

Judge D. Bird: You know I was up at the Virginia Tech Ohio State game last year in Columbus, Ohio and found out, I didn't realize it, they told us they had a student enrollment of 57,000.

Carmen: I believe that.

Judge D. Bird: Unbelievable.

Carmen: It's amazing.

Judge D. Bird: That's almost double the size of Tech, I mean student body wise.

Carmen: I guess that's right though. I heard that but it never really hit me. It feels like Tech despite 30-something thousand, but it even feels even bigger than that doesn't it?


Judge D. Bird: That's right. That's right.

Carmen: I guess soon it will be.

Judge D. Bird: Yeah, that's right.

Carmen: We talked a little bit about your good memories and some snowball fights and panty raids you said, and pushing trains up hills, but what about were there any difficult experiences that you had during your time at Tech?

Judge D. Bird: Well yeah. Sometimes when you're a rat in the Cadet Corps you get picked on by upper classmen, and sometimes an upper classman will overdo it. I think they have cut a lot of that out now, hazing and so forth, but back in the 50s they used to haze us. They would use switches or something on our legs, and I remember one time challenging. We had a right to challenge an upper classman to the gym for a little fist fight if they overdid it, and that happened in my situation one time 28:00and I remember challenging an upper classman to the gym. I showed up but he didn't show up, so it happens sometimes, and those are difficult times. I mean looking back on it it's sort of funny, but at the time it wasn't funny; it was serious stuff.

Carmen: I'm sure. Was anything going on at that time in the broader United States that you feel like transformed something on campus or caused any event on campus or anything like that?

Judge D. Bird: Well of course I was there from '56. I was a student here at Virginia Tech from '56 to 1960. Then I served a couple of years in the Army and then I went to law school at Washington Lee University, which was the closest law school and a great law 29:00school. I just had my 50-year reunion at Washington Lee. But anyway, the thing that phased me more than anything I think was Jack Kennedy's assassination, and that occurred in 1963. That affected campuses all over the country because he was sort of the new frontier and the first President who had been elected President of the United States, and was born in the 20th Century, so that was a big thing. I'm thinking the Korean War was really before us, 1950-1953, and then the Vietnam War didn't start really until I graduated from Tech, but of course both of those wars affected our class and students. Of course we lost some good 30:00people in both those wars from Virginia Tech.

Carmen: Right. So you feel that your time here that was kind of in a gap maybe in between?

Judge D. Bird: There really was a gap there between '56 and '60 where we had peace time really.

Carmen: You can see that on campus as well, not a lot of strife or anything?

Judge D. Bird: That's right. We enjoyed that time. That was a good time. Some of the best years of my life were when I was a student at Virginia Tech.

Carmen: How do you feel that your first year as a rat compared with the rest of your time at Virginia Tech? Did anything change?

Judge D. Bird: Well, the first year as a rat you take a lot of, at that time hazing and so forth from upper classmen, but you bonded with your classmates and your classmates in your 31:00class are lifetime friends, so that's the nature of it. That's what happens and it happens I think to all classes. You bond with your company in the Cadet Corps. It might be 30 to 50 cadets in your class in the company. A company is made up of over 200 cadets, and so you bonded and that was a great thing, lifetime friends. You can't replace that anywhere in the country I don't think. I think it's a great bond. It's a great love and respect that we had for each other and pulling for each other and helping each other.

Carmen: So you would say those kind of bonds initially fostered that first year and then throughout 32:00the rest it just...?

Judge D. Bird: That is right and it continued throughout your time. You didn't want anybody throwing off on your classmates.

Carmen: Of course. Were there any big, you know how Tech is always under construction, always building something new, was anything during your time here built or constructed that you recall?

Judge D. Bird: Well, they were building the Cassell Coliseum back in our time. I don't think it opened until '61 or '62, but they were building the Cassell- which is a $2-million - Lord, we couldn't believe it, a large facility. Now they're still using it, 10,600 students can attend the basketball game. But yes, we had a lot of construction going on during that time.

Carmen: I think that's also kind of a staple of Tech, just always building for the future I guess.

Judge D. Bird: That's right.

Carmen: I heard I think it was last year's ring for Ring Dance they have a crane on it 33:00because of the construction.

Judge D. Bird: Yes, right. [Chuckles]

Carmen: I guess that represents Virginia Tech well.

Judge D. Bird: Very appropriate, right. [Chuckles]

Carmen: They'll never forget it.

Judge D. Bird: Yeah.

Carmen: So you said you studied dairy science which was kind of a natural fit for you because you grew up on the dairy farm and you felt at home with that.

Judge D. Bird: Right.

Carmen: But then later you went to law school, so what kind of happened between that...?

Judge D. Bird: Well, we had a small dairy farm milking 100 cows or so, and I have a younger brother about six or seven years younger than I am and he stayed on the farm, so really the farm wasn't big enough for you know three families or so. So one morning after I got back from the Army and getting the cows in the barn in February with about two feet of snow on the ground in Bland County and temperature 10 below zero, I told my father that 34:00there's got to be a better way to make a living. So I was thinking about coming back to Tech to get a master's and he insisted that I go to law school. He thought that would be better and he was right, so I did go to law school. Of course, I wouldn't have become a judge. I practiced law for about 30 years and I've been a judge now for about 25 years, and I still hold court as a substitute judge even up to this day. So my father was right and I'm glad that he gave me good advice.

Carmen: Do you remember how you felt at the time he gave you that advice though? Were you like, "Oh that's great advice," or were you like, "I don't know, I kind of want to go back to Tech?"

Judge D. Bird: I felt that way, yes, but I went to Lexington and talked to the Dean of the Law School and Dean Charles Light said, "Dan we love to have people from different occupations 35:00and all." I told him I grew up on a dairy farm. I was a college agriculture graduate. I didn't know whether I could make it at law school or not, and he encouraged me to try. And he said, "If you don't like it it will just be a year out of your life and you can do something else." So I made it that first year and became a lawyer. Practicing law to me was like trying to help people. What our motto is Ut Prosim, That I May Serve. And I went back to my hometown really Wytheville is right next to Bland County and it was town, and I tried to help people with different situations, and so I was trying to live up to our motto 36:00that I May Serve.

Carmen: Right. That's kind of amazing that kind of motto got engrained in you and you would say that's carried throughout the work you've done for the rest of your life.

Judge D. Bird: That's right. And it was fostered by Virginia Tech. It was the foundation for what I did for the rest of my life was trying to help other people with their problems.

Carmen: Do you remember any... I know now they do things like Big Event and service projects, were there certain service projects that were going on with the broader community when you were in school here?

Judge D. Bird: Oh yes. It was very much like it is now. I'm sure it's on a larger scale now, but yes. We had YMCA, YWCA, had all things and of course the Lyric Theater. Remember that was a staple that 37:00we would sometimes slip off and go to a movie. [Laughs]

Carmen: Do you remember any of the movies you saw there?

Judge D. Bird: Oh I remember some of the old movies you know that we saw. One of my favorite movies was Casablanca and it was back in what 1938-39 with Humphrey Bogart. I loved doing those things. I don't go to many movies now. I played baseball here at Virginia Tech on the varsity team and I enjoyed doing that for the first two years, and then I got elected my second year as President of the Class and then Chairman of the Ring Committee and so I just had to tell our coach I didn't have time to go on traveling trips and play baseball, so I didn't get to play the last two years. I always sort of 38:00regretted that, but at the same time there's a priority you have to set and the academics were more important. But I'm still a baseball fanatic.

Carmen: Do you ever come back to Tech for baseball games?

Judge D. Bird: Oh yes, I do. Yes, every year I come back.

Carmen: When the weather gets nice and warm in the spring you can sit out there and watch them play and really enjoy that.

Judge D. Bird: That's right. Yeah. And I enjoy Tech baseball, Tech basketball, Tech football, Virginia Tech golf. I'm a member of the Hacking Hokies which is a group that goes with the golf team on some of the trips.

Carmen: That's right, so you're always coming back and traveling with Virginia Tech.

Judge D. Bird: That's right.

Carmen: Can't get enough.

Judge D. Bird: That's right.

Carmen: So this is kind of a fun question, but when I say the words "Virginia Tech" what's the very first thing you think of what is it?

Judge D. Bird: Well, I'd have to say I think of our motto Ut Prosim, That I May Serve. I 39:00think of helping others and helping each other. I think we need to teach more civility in our high school and college because we've become a very divided country politically. I know I served really as a Democrat for about 20 years in the State Senate, but some of my best friends were on the other side of the aisle Republicans and we're still... As a matter of fact, one of my Virginia Senate friends called me the other day, a Republican, said he just wanted to know if I was on my farm working. And he asked me, he said, "I just wanted to know if old Danny Bird was still alive." [Laughs]

Carmen: Called to check in on you.

Judge D. Bird: Yeah, checking. So we were friends and we might disagree during the daytime, but at nighttime we played cards, went to receptions, had 40:00dinner together over drinks and we had a good time. It wasn't divided like it is now. There was much more civility I think practiced back in those days than there is now.

Carmen: So you think maybe Ut Prosim is kind of the key?

Judge D. Bird: I think that's a key that we may serve and help others. I think Virginia Tech that's what it stands for and we need to realize and recognize distinctions and differences of opinion, but do it agreeably. That's what we need to do, and I think if we do the Virginia Tech Ut Prosim remember that motto that civility 41:00will improve and we teach our young people coming up to work together with others, even though they may disagree on a lot of things.

Carmen: There will always be people you disagree with.

Judge D. Bird: That's right. And you can be friends and respect people that have other viewpoints from what your viewpoints are and I think that's very important in life, getting along with others and working together and try to be a unifier between different factions rather than trying to cause problems.

Carmen: We were talking a little bit when we first met this morning about how you're still involved. I mean we're here. We're in the Alumni Center; you're back for a game, but would you mind stating for the record all the ways that you've been involved post graduating from Virginia Tech? I know there's a long list.


Judge D. Bird: Well, I guess I served on the Alumni Board. I've been an elected member or appointed member for about 20 years, Virginia Tech's Alumni Board, and that was from the time I was in my early 30s on up, and then they honored me by making me a lifetime honorary member, so I enjoy coming back and trying to help others and let them remember about civility and so forth. In our Alumni Board meetings we sort of bond. Every Alumni Board might have different members over the years, over the last 30 or 40 years, but we always sort of bond together and it's bonding sort of like the Cadet Corps when you're rats that you get to know people and you get to know people with different viewpoints and you enjoy hearing what they have to say. I 43:00just enjoy staying active all the time and everything, active on my farm. I raise beef cattle on my farm. I'm active at Virginia Tech on the Alumni Board. I'm active as a substitute judge whenever they need a substitute, a judge is sick or he has a funeral or something to go to. The Supreme Court might call me and ask me if I can go anywhere in the State of Virginia to serve as a substitute judge and I enjoy doing that. I enjoy meeting different people.

Carmen: You like staying busy.

Judge D. Bird: Yes.

Carmen: And then in any free time you come see Virginia Tech athletic events, right?

Judge D. Bird: That's right. I love Virginia Tech athletics.

Carmen: And sit down with me for an interview.

Judge D. Bird: That's right. I love Virginia Tech athletics and I'm interested in whatever sport they're playing. I think Virginia Tech just does 44:00things right. They're a class act and that's expressed by our Coach Frank Beamer who I have a lot of UVA friends in the legal field and they all highly respect Frank Beamer because he's a class act. That's a good role model for students and for all of us to look up to.

Carmen: I really enjoy going to some athletic events myself. What do you feel about the Lane Stadium experience when "Enter Sandman" is played?

Judge D. Bird: Oh I think it's wonderful. I'm 77, but I enjoyed jumping up and down and it is a wonderful experience. I think it's been voted one of the top in the country.

Carmen: I believe so. I know at the very first home game this year the north end zone up right there beneath the 45:00jumbotron there was so much jumping and so many people they broke some of the bleachers. Right under their feet they broke them. Everybody was jumping.

Judge D. Bird: Yeah. And that shows you the passion that Virginia Tech students and Virginia Tech fans have for this University, and I think that speaks well of it.

Carmen: Why do you think, if you had to give a couple of reasons why at the very core you think that is why so many students go on to be involved in alumni and come back? Why do you?

Judge D. Bird: I think it's bonding with their friends. You don't see that at a lot of other colleges and universities in the country, but you certainly see it at Virginia Tech. Now I might say they also have that at VMI and probably at UVA, but I don't see how it could be any better than it is at Virginia Tech. We just love coming back. 46:00People come back from Florida, come back from Maine, come back from all over the country to Virginia Tech athletic events, and also other events too going on here at Virginia Tech.

Carmen: Like reunions. I guess there is the reunion that's going on this weekend.

Judge D. Bird: That is correct.

Carmen: and it's just ideally during football season. That way they can catch a game while they're in.

Judge D. Bird: And I want to give a nod to the Alumni Office for Tom Tillar's retiring of course, but for 40 years he's given to Virginia Tech. They've done a great job with reunions and getting people to come back. I think that's wonderful, so it's great to be a Hokie and I think once a Hokie always a Hokie all your life.


Carmen: So we were speaking a little bit earlier about you feel as though Tech is just continuing to progress and it's obviously just continuing to grow. Are there any changes you would specifically like to see? You said a little bit about civility, but any other changes you would like to see happen at Virginia Tech over the years?

Judge D. Bird: Well, I think Virginia Tech is in excellent position to maybe someday have a law school. I would like to see that. I think there are many other things. One thing that I don't know, the old Monteith Hall where I lived for three years back in the 50s is being torn down and they're going to put another large dorm. I hate to see that, but I hope they name something after Jimmy Monteith who was a Congressional Medal of Honor winner. I'm sure they will, because those are just 48:00traditions. That upper quadrangle was all Cadet Corps at one time. Now they are with a larger Corps and we've done it by scholarships. Having served as National President of the Alumni Association one year we had the commandant of Cadets at Texas A&M. They had a 45,000 student body with 1,800 members of the Corp and our Corp had dwindled down back in 1993-4 to 250 or so, so we were afraid of losing the Corp of Cadets. So what we did was asked the commandant to come and he spoke to us one day in an Alumni Meeting and said they did it by scholarships, by giving scholarships. So most of the Cadets that come to 49:00Virginia Tech now are on scholarships that have been given. I think we've raised over close to $10-million in scholarships to help students, and then they go on to become officers in the military. And Virginia Tech has graduated more officers, or commissioned more officers than has VMI and some of the other military schools because of that.

Carmen: Really?

Judge D. Bird: So I think it was a good thing. We've gone from around 250 cadets 15 years ago, 15 to 18 years ago to up to over 1,000. I think almost 1,100 cadets now.

Carmen: There's certainly more than 250.

Judge D. Bird: Yes.

Carmen: I see a bunch because the History Building is in the upper quad. It's Major Williams Hall, so that's where I always am in there. The flagpole is right out there in the quad.


Judge D. Bird: Right in front of Lane.

Carmen: That's right.

Judge D. Bird: The oldest building on campus.

Carmen: Still standing.

Judge D. Bird: And you know it's great to see that because we need commissioned officers to know what they're doing and Virginia Tech Corp of Cadets helps provide that.

Carmen: So you appreciate the Corps experience you had.

Judge D. Bird: Yes.

Carmen: And you can see that continuing.

Judge D. Bird: Most definitely.

Carmen: To be very valuable.

Judge D. Bird: Yes, very valuable throughout my life and throughout the lives of all the Cadets that went through the rat line and graduated with commissions in the military. I think it's been a great help to our country.

Carmen: So here's kind of a many-pronged question. What do you think 51:00that people don't know but should know about Virginia Tech? What would you like them to know that maybe a lot of people don't know about Virginia Tech?

Judge D. Bird: Well, I can give you a good example. One of our governors of Virginia said when he came to Virginia Tech that it was maybe Virginia's most hidden treasure. And I sort of look at it that way, although really I think I've seen figures of about a third of our student body or more from Northern Virginia, DC area and so, and we've held Alumni Board meetings in Northern Virginia and the participation is wonderful. I would say that Virginia Tech is not hidden as much 52:00as it used to be. It's pretty well known nation-wide. Of course the tragedy here was 2007 and that just broke our hearts. That was a tragedy, a tragic tragic event. So many good people that we lost and we've got to find some way to help people with mental illness or recognize it quicker before something like that happens, and I'm sure Virginia Tech's working on that as best they can.

Carmen: Do you think that moment kind of stands as an event that we can learn from in a way?

Judge D. Bird: Yes, yes.

Carmen: But it is interesting that you say "hidden treasure" because I think you're right, I think a lot more people know Virginia Tech is, but I think some are still so surprised 53:00when they drive and drive and drive on 81 and 460 into what they think is the middle of nowhere Southwest Virginia and they find Blacksburg.

Judge D. Bird: I'll give you a good example of that. My daughter graduated from the Pamplin College of Business in 1990 and she's lived in St. Paul Minnesota and now they live in Philadelphia. Well she talked to her neighbors, her neighbors mostly they had been going to Penn State or University of Pennsylvania or some of those schools, and she talked her neighbors into coming to see Virginia Tech. To make a long story short, their daughter came to Virginia Tech as a result and she is a freshman and she loves Virginia Tech. And like I said before, anybody that ever 54:00has come here seems to really love this university and love the faculty, the staff, the students. And so that's one example, but it happens all the time. I think other Hokies get the word out so when they come they want to be here.

Carmen: We're proud of our school. We like to talk about it.

Judge D. Bird: Yes. And other thing, after that tragic incident, and I've had many people from other schools say the same thing, the media interviewed a lot of students on campus about that tragic event in 2007 where 32 wonderful lives were taken and every student they interviewed had showed love and respect for Virginia Tech. They 55:00were trying to get something negative to put on television, on the nightly news and so forth and all they got was love and respect from the students. Doesn't that tell you something about the school?

Carmen: Absolutely.

Judge D. Bird: It just warmed my heart to see it and to see that they didn't point fingers. They didn't blame anybody. They took up for Dr. Steger, our President at the time. It was just heartwarming to see the reaction of the students to that tragedy.

Carmen: They really came together. Don't quote me on this but I think I, I have a friend who came in the class the year following that event and she said she believes at the time she was part of the largest group of admissions up to that 56:00point.

Judge D. Bird: Yes.

Carmen: And I think that was surprising to some people that the year following such a tragedy even more people than ever before

Judge D. Bird: Wanted to come to Virginia Tech. That tells you something. And it was not unrecognized by people from other colleges and universities throughout the United States. They saw that the student body of Virginia Tech was behind the President and they were really deeply saddened by the tragedy, but did not point fingers, did not blame anybody and they were very positive about the direction Virginia Tech had to go in the future, so it's wonderful to see that.

Carmen: Would you say you feel like that Virginia Tech is heading in the right direction?

Judge D. Bird: Yes, most definitely, the right direction.

Carmen: So that was a little bit about what you think people should know about 57:00Virginia Tech, but what about you, what do you think people should know about you that they don't know?

Judge D. Bird: [Laughs] I have been in politics as I told you for 25 years and then a judge for the last 25 years. And I have probably been called everything in the book over time by different people, so I just want to be Danny Bird and be a person, be a Hokie that wants... I like to be recognized as a person who wants to help and live up to the motto of Ut Prosim, That I May Serve and that's all I ever ask for.

Carmen: That's what you want people to know about you?

Judge D. Bird: That's right. And I think in my community people do identify, when Virginia Tech loses a football game they blame it on me. [Laughs]

Carmen: Oh no, you don't want that coming down on your shoulders.


Judge D. Bird: But that's not... You know everybody has a bad day. It's not the college football coach's fault. It's just things that happen and some things happen in life that are good, some things that are bad and when you get knocked down you've got to get back on your feet and go again.

Carmen: Great. And I guess if people are blaming you for Virginia Tech's football losses they at least associate you with Virginia Tech most of all don't they?

Judge D. Bird: Yes they do, in my community they do. What is wrong with Virginia Tech? Why aren't you down there doing something about it? But anyway, I think Virginia Tech will be back. They will be back. Don't worry about that. We may have a bad day but we never lose, we just sometimes run out of time. We never lose. We just 59:00run out of time.

Carmen: That's right. Well, tonight is an opportunity for a comeback is it not?

Judge D. Bird: That is correct. It will be wonderful if it happens. If it doesn't happen maybe we will run out of time again, but Virginia Tech will survive and will be stronger as a result, regardless how it comes out.

Carmen: Yep, absolutely, and then there will be another opportunity.

Judge D. Bird: Exactly, and that's what we've got to realize. We have tremendous hope for the future for this University and it's got so many ways to go. I mentioned about a law school here someday. That may happen and it may not happen, but at the same time it's something that could happen at a large university like this. And I'm sure there are other things that... Well I tell you one thing, 60:00women's golf, women's lacrosse, some of these things are good because we have as many women on campus as men, so it's good that we have more teams and comply with all the NCAA standards. I like to see it just at the highest level of compliance.

Carmen: Yeah, we like competing don't we?

Judge D. Bird: That's right.

Carmen: People in competition as many as it can have in every sport possible.

Judge D. Bird: That's right. If you have some on your football team or baseball team or basketball team you have some bad eggs then they shouldn't be here, and I think the student body has addressed those situations before. They've taken care of that. We like to keep the good eggs.

Carmen: Would you consider yourself a good egg?

Judge D. Bird: [Laughs] I try to be. I try to be.


Carmen: Me too. Me too. So I've pretty much fired off a ton of questions toward you this whole time. Is there anything that I haven't asked you that you thought I would ask or that you would like to talk about?

Judge D. Bird: I think we've pretty much covered almost everything. I see the line of questions.

Carmen: Before you saw this line of questions did you have something in mind that you thought I might or whoever you met would ask you today?

Judge D. Bird: I really didn't know. I talked with a couple of my kids and told the Hokies I didn't know what questions I would get today but I would try to do the best I could. I'm sure there are things that have happened over the years at Virginia Tech that we're so proud of that I haven't mentioned. Not just 62:00athletics, but like the arts. The P. Buckley Moss Center is a wonderful thing for the University and for not just the University, but for all surrounding areas. I think the enlargement of the air field, the air strip. We had to move the Dairy Science Department Buildings down to Kentland Farms. And that's where it should be because we have 1,900 acres down there by the river and that's a much better place for it than where it is now, and that way we can expand the airport. So I think Virginia Tech has just done things right. I remember back when I was in the Senate of Virginia and I was on the Alumni Board 63:00too at the same time, the old horticultural farm that was out really where the New River Mall is now, they made a trade and it was a wonderful thing for Virginia Tech. We've got 1,900 acres down by the river by the New River, 1,900 acres for about 100 acres or so, so it was a great thing for a research and extension program. They tried to make it...the media tried to make it look like we were really getting screwed. Well baloney. It was a wonderful thing that happened and I told the people at the time in Richmond that was a great thing for Virginia Tech. Kentland Farm was where the farm should be for research and extension, and New River Valley Mall is where it should be, so it was a great 64:00thing. It blew over after a while, but they were trying to blame the President, blame the athletic director and the media was pointing fingers, but at the same time we survived just like we always have. Virginia Tech survived.

Carmen: I think that's a common thing that Virginia Tech does.

Judge D. Bird: That's right. And the moves we make sometimes may not look right at the time, but for the future they have been head-up, hit the nail on the head, been the right thing.

Carmen: I guess we will see what decisions that are made at this point now and how those affect the future.

Judge D. Bird: I haven't mentioned the Corporate Research Center which is a wonderful thing. I remember coming to the...A congressman spoke at the initiation of the groundbreaking 65:00ceremony for the Weather Station in Blacksburg, but we get our weather from the Blacksburg station right here on campus near the Corporate Research Center. There's so many things like that. The Vet School. I remember helping Governor John Balton and Dr. Lavery running the plow to plow up the ground for the Vet School to start. That was a wonderful thing. That was a highlight back in the 80s. I had the occasion to sit with the Dean of the Vet School, Dean Clarke who was from South Africa just at breakfast the other morning, and he had so many good ideas about the future in Virginia Tech and the Vet School.

Carmen: Yeah. People come from all over the world really. I mean we said the country earlier, but all over the world come to Virginia Tech.

Judge D. Bird: Dean Clarke, the Dean of the Vet School had been at Oklahoma State for 20 66:00years, so he had some great ideas for what Virginia Tech will become in the future.

Carmen: Wonderful.

Judge D. Bird: It's wonderful.

Carmen: So, are there any final thoughts you have or anything final you want to add?

Judge D. Bird: I'll just say go Hokies. Go Hokies. [Laughs]

Carmen: Thank you so much for sitting down with me. It's been wonderful to hear about your experience here at Virginia Tech. I get to compare that a little bit to mine, so it's been wonderful. Thank you so much.

Judge D. Bird: Well thank you Carmen. It's wonderful to be here and Virginia Tech's been good for the Commonwealth of Virginia and for Southwest Virginia.

Carmen: Thank you.