Luke Gabriel Bird, a baptized, beloved child of our heavenly Father, died during a hiking accident on Saturday, July 16, in the Valparaíso region of Chile. He was 21 years old. As a 2nd class (junior) Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, Luke was studying abroad at Escuela Naval Arturo Prat, Chile’s Naval Academy.
As senior class president, Luke addressed his fellow graduates from New Braunfels High School in May of 2019. He said, “All of your education, your experiences, your training—they were not for you. They were for your future families, your coworkers, your country, and for those you will help and support…The most important people in our lives are the ones whom we can look at and say, ‘My life is better because of what you have done for me.’ Be that person.”
This selfless, other-centered drive to serve was embodied and championed by Luke in every area of his life. He served as captain of his high school wrestling team during his junior and senior years. When that team won their first-ever regional championship in February of 2019, Luke reminded them that the margin of their victory, a slight 2.5 points, was made possible only because each individual wrestled not for themselves, but for the team. “Every minute contribution,” he wrote them afterward, “as inconsequential as each seemed at the time, decided the fate of the team.”
As battalion commander of the New Braunfels Marine Corps JROTC, Luke received many awards, chief of which was the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement, an award given to only five Marine Corps JROTC cadets in the entire nation. Yet Luke would impress upon his fellow cadets that as you strive for excellence, as you push yourself beyond all limits, do it for others, for those who are counting on you.
His fellow midshipmen at the Naval Academy repeatedly describe Luke by one word: selfless. He mentored. He tutored. He encouraged. As a Christian, Luke devoted himself to a life of love, of seeking the good of another, of stewarding his many gifts in order to bring light into the life of others. In his 21 years in this world, he left an undying legacy in the hearts of untold thousands who, in ways great and small, perceived in Luke unmissable marks of a life shaped by the hand of God.
Whether he was cycling, running, hiking, studying, cooking, playing the piano, or even chopping through the ice to take a cold plunge with his friends in Annapolis, Luke knew only how to do life 100%. Mediocrity was unacceptable. You give your all. And then some.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the United States Naval Academy, New Braunfels High School wrestling, or New Braunfels High School Marine Corps JROTC.
Luke is survived by his mother, Audra Courter, and stepfather, Matthew Craig Courter; his father, Chad Bird, and stepmother, Stacy Bird; his sister, Auriana Mallory and husband Josh; step-siblings Candace Shover, Shelbi Nickerson, Colton Nickerson, Nakayla Courter, Tabbitha Coombes and their families; grandparents Ted and Nelda Dickman, and Carson and Jeanette Bird; step-grandparents Stephen Awbrey, and David and Judy Osborne; aunts and uncles Rayna and Scott Barefoot, Annette and Colleen Dickman, Cara and Mike Pilch, Rob and Stephanie Carnes, and Shannon and Kenny Kahlden; as well as 12 cousins, eight nieces and nephews, fellow midshipmen and countless friends.
We, Luke’s family, with utter confidence, entrust our son, brother, grandson, friend, midshipman, and most remarkable human being, into the arms of Jesus Christ, who is the Resurrection and the Life.
Service times are pending at this time. For updated funeral arrangement times and to leave fond memories and expressions of sympathy please visit our website at www.ZoellerFuneralHm.com.