Borgny and Woodrow Baird Scholarship

Borgny and Woodrow Baird Scholarship

When a 15-year-old Norwegian girl named Borgny Moen left Norway for the United States, who could have guessed that she would become one of CLU’s leading ladies? Few would have foreseen the future outstanding leader and benefactor the young girl would become.

Borgny had just lost her mother when she rejoined her father in Gardena, California. Within three years she had learned the English language, graduated from high school with honors, and enrolled as a freshman at UCLA. Encouraged by her advisers to continue her education, she enrolled at Boalt Hall Law School at UC-Berkeley where she earned her doctor of jurisprudence (J.D.). While there she also met, fell in love and married her lifetime partner, Woodrow Baird. Borgny was one of the first women to be hired by O’Melveny & Myers , a prominent Los Angeles law firm. A few years later, she and Woodrow established their own law firm in Long Beach. Borgny’s professional specialties included wills, estates, guardianships, adoptions and probate work. The Bairds adopted a daughter, Brynn, and a son, Marshall.

Because Borgny knew what it was to grow up among the poor, in her adult life she became a champion for those in need. She made use of every educational opportunity that presented itself and she wanted those same opportunities for others. Brought up in the Lutheran tradition, she became a strong advocate and supporter of Lutheran education at all levels—from nursery school through day school and higher education. That’s what led her to become involved with CLC/CLU.

Service was her calling, and it took her wherever she was needed. She served on the CLU board of regents for 15 years (1970-1985) and was its first female chair. Leadership came so naturally to her that she did not seem to realize she was blazing new trails as a woman. The University recognized her outstanding leadership in 1983 by awarding her the Distinguished Service Award in Trusteeship.

In 1974 Borgny and Woody created the scholarship that bears their name. But that was just the beginning. At least five endowed scholarships, some of them very substantial, resulted from her legal work. As an attorney, Borgny was trusted by her clients, not only for her professionalism but for her own values and the example she set in her philanthropy. It is certainly true that she “practiced what she preached.”

Borgny was an exceptional woman, and California Lutheran University was fortunate to receive her legacy. The endowed Borgny and Woodrow Baird Scholarship is designated simply for financially needy students, preferably students from Long Beach. Borgny never lost her desire to serve those who needed her most.