Diana W. Bird, 81, Was Woman of Convictions

Diana (Washbon) Bird, 81, Democratic activist and dedicated member of the Society of Friends died Jan. 30 in Washington,Va. With her husband, B. Lee Bird, she had been a West Tisbury seasonal resident since 1960.

She was born in Virginia on Sept. 15, 1922, a daughter of Charles Gould Washbon and Mary Elizabeth (Caldwell) Washbon, but grew up in Florida. Her father, an engineer, was helping in the construction of that state's Tamiami Trail. Mrs. Bird briefly attended college in Kansas, but transferred to Florida State College for Women, from which she was graduated.

At the end of World War II, she took a job in Washington with the National Institute of Public Affairs. It was there that she met her husband, then a young Washington attorney and later an administrative judge. Energetic and enthusiastic, Mrs. Bird helped found the Art Group, an organization for the wives of upwardly striving young attorneys that has flourished ever since. Mrs. Bird also worked for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and taught English for a time at the Madeira School in Virginia.

The Birds made their home in McLean, Va., where New York Times columnist and longtime West Tisbury summer dweller Anthony J. Lewis was a neighbor. It was he who suggested that they come to the Vineyard and in the summer of 1960 they rented God's Pocket on the West Tisbury-Edgartown Road. In no time at all, they were looking for a West Tisbury home of their own. The one they found was the Harry D. West house, perched at an angle on Music street. They have come to West Tisbury in spring and fall ever since.

Mrs. Bird was well known not only for her outspoken political views, but for her dexterity in the kitchen, and West Tisbury neighbors never failed to respond with delight to a Bird dinner invitation. They knew that the dinner (probably lobster salad or crab soufflé) would be delicious. And they also knew that the conversation would be stimulating. Her husband describes her as "determinedly intellectual and a student of art, politics and people."

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her son, Christopher, and his wife, Mary Jane Cappello of Washington; her daughter, Dr. Stephanie Bird of Newton, and her husband, Dr. Fred Ausubel, and three grandchildren, Anna, Emily and Jonathan Ausubel.

A celebration of her life will be held this spring, at a date to be announced, on the Vineyard.