On January 25th, Laird Wilcox, the writer of our monthly column, “The Card Corner” passed away at his home in Kansas City.
Laird was actually known by his family as Anthony or “Tony”. You see, Laird was the fourth of five “Laird” Wilcox’s!
In an interview with Laird’s father, now living in Olathe, Kansas, I was able to piece together some interesting facts about Laird. Though we mostly knew him through his involvement with the local I.B.M and S.A.M. magic clubs, Laird had several other interests and hobbies.
Laird was a trained Army Combat Medic Paratrooper. He spent two years in Germany and worked in several army hospitals during his military career. Following his term in the army, he worked as a nurse at various veteran hospitals including the VA Hospital in Kansas City.
During his life he was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to hunt, fish and camp. He also grew up with and loved guns and weapons and was an active member of the National Rifle Association. He was in line to be one of the official local representatives of the NRA.
Laird spent time traveling throughout Europe and became a very good amateur photographer.
Laird always liked messing around with cards. But, it was when he discovered the local magic clubs and card tricks that changed his life. Magic soon became an important part of his life. He became friends with many members of the local magic clubs and found a niche as a card guru. According to Laird’s father, “It was a natural fit.”
Laird’s death is still somewhat of a mystery. The actual cause of death is still undetermined and no death certificate has yet been issued. It is estimated that he had been dead for two days before he was found in his home in Kansas City. He had been
going through some serious physical issues which were only known to a handful of people.
Laird willed most all of his magic to fellow ring member, Shawn Rivera.
Below is a copy of an obituary which Laird’s father had prepared for the Kansas City Star:
Laird Anthony Wilcox, 55, passed away at the age of 55 on 25 January 2018 in Kansas City, MO. He leaves two sons, Laird J. Wilcox, 21, and Theodore A. Wilcox, 19, of Tulsa, OK; his father, Laird M. Wilcox of Olathe, KS; his mother, Eileen Maddocks, of Burlington, VT; two sisters, Elizabeth Carrier of Middletown, CT; Carrie Wilcox of Dry Ridge, KY; a niece, Christine Franklin of East Hartford, CT, and a large extended family. He was interred at Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Laird “Tony” Wilcox was born in Topeka, KS on 18 November 1962. He lived with his parents in Lawrence, KS, until 1966 when he moved with his mother and sister to Clinton, IA, and then to Houston, TX in 1967. From there they moved to Middletown, CT in 1979 where he graduated from high school. While in Middletown he accompanied his mother who was a tour leader on two trips to Egypt to visit the Pyramids at Giza in 1982 and 1983.
In 1983 he joined the U.S. Army where following basic training at Ft. Hood, TX, after which he took training as a qualified combat medic paratrooper at Fort Jackson, SC, and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in Fulda, Germany on the East German border. He traveled widely when on leave in Europe, spending time in Germany, France, the Netherlands, England, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece. He was an accomplished photographer and had photos of his travels published in a number of collections.
He returned to the United States in 1987 and was stationed at Ft. Riley, KS where he was assigned to Irwin Army Hospital, promoted to the rank of Sergeant and was subsequently assigned to the last remaining MASH unit held in reserve during Desert Storm in Iraq, ready to ship out at a moment’s notice. He left the Army after 8 years of service in 1991 and moved to Skaneatles, NY, where he went to work for the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and remained for a year before transferring to the VA Hospital in Kansas City, MO in 1992.
In 1995 he married Ruth Ann Mason, daughter of Theodore and Ruth Mason of Tulsa, OK. They had two boys mentioned above. After their second son was born in 1998 Ruth Ann left for Tulsa, OK, to be near her parents and Tony moved to Olathe, KS, where he lived until he moved to Kansas City, MO in 2004. He stayed at the VA Hospital for 12 years and then moved into private nursing until he retired in 2012.
Laird Anthony Wilcox was a member of Sons of the American Revolution, a hereditary organization of descendants of Revolutionary War veterans, and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, a hereditary organization of descendants of Civil War Union Army officers. He was a member of Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS and an Endowment Member of the National Rifle Association.
He was an accomplished amateur magician and was active in both the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) and the Society of American Magicians (SAM). He performed for veterans at the VA Hospital and in the early 2000’s could be seen performing on the Country Club Plaza and other locations in Kansas City. He was a regular attendant at conventions of both organizations and was well-regarded in both groups and good friends with a number of performing magicians.
He will be deeply missed by his many friends and family members.