Mrs. Doris Bird of Clarksville was presented with an honorary doctorate of commercial science degree by University of the Ozarks during the university's 2012 Fall Commencement, held Dec. 12 in Munger Memorial Chapel.
Bird, a River Valley entrepreneur, business owner and long-time supporter of Ozarks, is a former member of the college’s Board of Trustees. She and her family established the Huie Bird Memorial Scholarship at Ozarks in 2010 in memory of her late husband.
University President Dr. Rick Niece presented the honorary doctorate to Bird during the commencement.
"Doris Bird is one of the classiest, most compassionate people I know," Niece said. "She is the perfect example of philanthropic generosity, community involvement, and servant leadership. I have great admiration for her and her commitment to making this community a better place to live and work. She can be very proud of her well-deserved title: Dr. Doris Bird."
Bird said she was deeply touched by the honor.
"I am so grateful and humble to have received this honorary degree, especially because it comes from University of the Ozarks," she said. "To be recognized by such a wonderful institution is truly a dream come true for me. I have felt truly privileged to be a part of the U of O family and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Niece and his wife, Sherée, for the endless contributions they have made, not only to U of O but to our entire community."
The Birds have owned and operated nearly a dozen hotels and numerous other businesses since they moved to Johnson County in 1970. They opened Hartman Grocery in 1970, and later established Bird’s Drive-In, a popular restaurant on Highway 64 in Hartman. Soon thereafter the Birds purchased their first hotel in Clarksville and later added hotel properties in Oklahoma, Northwest Arkansas and Branson, Mo. They also built a Hampton Inn in 1994 and Holiday Inn Express in 2008, both in Clarksville.
Bird’s husband of 55 years, Huie, died in June 2010. Shortly before his passing, the couple was honored with the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bird remains actively involved in the daily operations of the five properties the family still maintains, including Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn and Suites and Best Western Inn, all in Russellville, and the Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express, both in Clarksville. She is the mother of two daughters, Peggy Bird Cogan (Dan) and Nancy Bird Rogers (Jim), and grandmother to Chivon Cogan (Dale Withrow), Crystal Cogan Martinez (Rolando), and Caitlin Rogers. She also has three great grandchildren.
Mrs. Doris Bird (center) poses for photos with her family after being presented an honorary degree by University of the Ozarks on Dec. 12.