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1946 Virginia Elizabeth Bird 2024

Virginia Elizabeth Bird

April 12, 1946 — January 9, 2024

Portage, MI

Virginia Elizabeth Bird (Small) of Portage, MI passed away on January 9, 2024, at the age of 77 in Kalamazoo, MI with her family by her side.

She was born to parents Robert & Mary Elizabeth (Baldwin) Small on April 12, 1946, in Benton Harbor, Michigan where she grew up with her older brothers Richard and Stephen. She graduated from Benton Harbor High School in 1964. She married John Bird on August 12, 1967, with whom she raised 3 children: Stephen Michael, Robert Christopher, & Michael Patrick.

Virginia spent the first 3 years of college studying at DePauw University where she was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. After getting married in 1967, John & Virginia moved to Los Angeles where she transferred to UCLA and completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She continued her education to include a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance from the University of California Santa Barbara and later a Master of Arts degree in dance from Western Michigan University.

In 1977 they moved back to Michigan to be closer to family members and to start a family of their own. Virginia valued motherhood above all else and found immense joy in helping many friends, family & neighbors care for their children. She used her passion for dance to help children in the Portage elementary schools through the Magical Movement program, which reinforced reading skills through choreographed movements. She went on to teach elementary school teachers about movement in the classroom at Western Michigan University.

Later in life she dedicated her time to fitness instruction including Silver Sneakers, yoga for seniors as well as yoga for athletes at CrossFit AZO.

Virginia enjoyed lap swimming, reading, participating in multiple book clubs, weekly walks & lunches with friends, listening to Elton John’s music, sunbathing & skipping stones in Lake Michigan and playing with her grandchildren. She will be remembered for her joyous energy, her love for everything purple and her ability to truly “dance like nobody is watching.”

A celebration of life will be held to honor Virginia at a later date in 2024.

Memorial donations may be made in her name to the Ballet Arts Ensemble to support the art of dance, at the following link:

To leave an online condolence, please visit

To send flowers to the family in memory of Virginia Elizabeth Bird, please visit our flower store.


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