Bill Baird (William Thomas Keckritz)

Bill Baird

Bill Baird

There’s little doubt Bill Baird is one of the most popular magicians in Heaven today. He certainly was on earth, with a legion of friends who were stunned by news of his death the very morning of the day many were preparing to leave for Abbott’s annual Get-Together at Colon.
Bill, whose real name was William Thomas Keckritz, left this world for eternal peace early the morning of August 5th in a Lans­ing, Michigan, hospital.
Cancer claimed the life of the beloved artist and gentleman whose immaculate bill­iard ball and manipulative act was unques­tionably one of the most beautiful in the world during the many years he performed professionally in the United States and abroad.
Word of his death spread rapidly and cast a pall of deep sorrow among the hundreds of old-timers at Colon who had known him over the years and who had shared with him count­less happy hours in the Bill Baird Room of the Magic Carpet restaurant and lounge dur­ing the annual Abbott Get-Together week.
Bill was like hundreds of others in look­ing forward all year to that week. This year, however, he knew months ahead that he might not make the 1978 event. He knew his condition was terminal and accordingly, had made known his desires when the time came.

Bill passed away in Provincial Hospital at Lansing, where he had resided for some years and the traditional Broken Wand cere­mony as well as the Masonic ritual were held at Lansing the morning of August 8th. Services were also held there at Olivet Bap­tist Church. He was then brought to Colon where at 2 P.M. that day graveside rites were held and he was buried in the local cemetery, just 20 feet south of the grave of Harry Blackstone, Sr. Bill had express­ed the desire to be buried as near to Black-stone as possible. Also carried out was his wish to be buried in full-dress attire. He was an extremely handsome man in his years as a professional entertainer and fastidious in taste in his clothing. These attributes in personal appearance were equaled only by his insistence on perfection in his act. His smiling face, his flawless billiard ball work, including his famous ball roll

between the fingers that no one else mas­tered, his consistency as a gentleman who never was known to voice unkind words about
anyone in or out of magic —- these were
among Bill Baird’s attributes that endeared him to everyone.
He was a man’s man to his friends and also beloved by their womenfolk to whom he always showed respect under all circum­stances. Bill’s background has been told and retold, but perhaps a bit about his life is in order here.
He was born at St. Louis, Missouri, March 5, 1914. His mother was a pianist who played in bands around St. Louis and his father had played the violin and viola in the St. Louis Symphony. Also, his father worked for many years for the Missouri Pacific railroad prior to his retirement. His mother, Eva Taylor, who he adored, is 86 years old and lives in an apartment across the street from where Bill and his wife, Lucille, resided. Bill and Lucille were married in 1961.
Bill was an only child. He got into magic at an early age and retired from the profession in the mid 50’s, feeling at the time that he wanted to get into something a bit steadier during the remainder of his working years. Also, he had tired of con­stant travel all over the country and over­seas. He was offered a good job as manu­facturer’s representative for a Chicago firm which dealt in automotive accessories. He was highly successful in this endeavor, then in the late 60’s went into business for himself under his own name. He was a manufacturer’s representative for a num­ber of companies. In this venture, too, he did well — until illness brought about his retirement.
As per Bill’s wishes, one set of the over size billiard balls he used in his act will be in David Price’s Egyptian Hall Museum, complete with a set of his professional photos and brochures. He had a supply of playing cards, he also manipulated to per­fection, and these will be distributed as per wishes as expressed to his wife.
The Robert Lund Magic Museum at Marshall, Michigan, will have jurisdiction over a handsome trophy Bill established and which will be awarded annually to an outstanding billiard ball manipulator, but kept on dis­play at the museum during the year for safekeeping.


More Images

  • Bill Baird grave -


  • March, 04, 1914
  • St. Louis, Missouri


  • August, 05, 1978
  • Lansing, Michigan

Cause of Death

  • Cancer


  • Lakeside Cemetery
  • Colon, Michigan

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