Stanford loses its longtime super fan Jack Laird | News | Palo Alto Online |


Stanford loses its longtime super fan Jack Laird


Jack Laird, '40, a former basketball player and associate director of development in the Stanford Athletic Department for 40 years, died last week. He was 98.

"The entire Stanford community will miss Jack Laird greatly," said Dick Gould, '59, the John L. Hinds Director of Tennis. "Jack served incredibly well professionally and later as a volunteer in athletic department development, and Stanford Athletics is a stronger place because of his loyalty and expertise. In addition, there has never been a more steadfast fan. He will be greatly missed by his legion of fans."

Nicknamed Superfan, Laird was an avid supporter and fund raiser who traveled to many football and basketball games and always wore red. From 1970 through 2008, he attended 444 consecutive football games.

Laird was administrator of the original Buck Club, now called the Buck/Cardinal Club, which raised money for athletic scholarships. He oversaw 90 regional directors in 42 states.

"Jack was a colorful character, always enthusiastic and full of life," said Associate Athletics Director for Development Heather M. Owen, '98. "His years as a student-athlete, athletic department employee, volunteer, and fan illustrate just how special Stanford was to him. Jack taught me a lot, and he will be missed."

Laird was the creator of the Starting 11, which raised significant funds for the football program. In 1998, he won the Stanford Associates Governor's Award.

"Jack played an integral role in alumni and donor relations for more than 50 years," said Matt Doyle, Senior Associate Athletics Director and Director of Football Operations. "He was a great asset to all of us in Stanford Athletics and his passion and enthusiasm will certainly be missed."

Laird was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Portland, Ore. A pilot in the Army, he served in World War II and Vietnam, and later flew commercially for Pan Am. Laird exercised on campus almost daily, played pickup basketball at noon at Maples Pavilion well into his 70s, and participated in the annual Stanford Basketball Alumni Game in his 80s.

"He would regale us with stories of landing planes at SFO, and he always said that his contemporary, Hank Luisetti, was an incredible player, beyond amazing in his day," said John Platz, '84, former men's basketball player and current sideline reporter for Stanford football and analyst for men's basketball radio broadcasts.

In an interview with former Stanford Sports Information Director Bob Murphy, '53, a standout pitcher on the baseball team and long-time radio voice of Cardinal football and basketball, Laird said he worked many jobs at Stanford to pay for his $115 a quarter tuition.

"I helped work on the Frost Amphitheater when I was a freshman," he said.

Laird played with Luisetti for three years.

"Obviously, he was known for his great scoring ability," said Laird. "One of the things I admired about him and was almost in awe of was his ball handling ability. I think he invented the behind the back dribble, and he was perfection at it. He also had the running one-handed shot. People had used one-handed shots before, but he perfected it."

At last year's football game against Utah, Laird was one of three "Superfans of the Year" and was honored on the field at halftime.

A memorial service is pending.

— Stanford Athletics

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


2 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 11, 2015 at 10:44 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

What an amazing life that he lived! Imagine all of the wonderful (and terrible) things that he saw and experienced over his 98 years. Rest in peace.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

'Are they ready for fully innovative Indian food?' Ettan arrives in Palo Alto with chaat, caviar and a secret menu
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 3,589 views

Flying: How to lower your impact
By Sherry Listgarten | 11 comments | 2,552 views

Premarital and Couples: Here Be Dragons!
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,083 views

Goodbye toy stores
By Cheryl Bac | 12 comments | 1,667 views

Pseudo-Primary for CA Senate District 13: some thoughts
By Douglas Moran | 3 comments | 1,285 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

Contest Details