William Henry ‘Bill’ Bailey
Bill Bailey passed away March 1, 2018, in Mesa, Ariz., at the age of 104, to be in the presence of his Heavenly Father.
Dad was born in a log cabin on April 5, 1913, on a cattle ranch near Cascade, Mont. to Melvin and Olga (Horn) Bailey. The family soon moved to Spokane, Wash., and then in 1924 to a wheat farm near Worley, Idaho where he grew up. He graduated from Worley High School in 1932, and briefly attended the University of Idaho before going to work for the Forest Service in 1933 as a fire lookout in the St. Joe National Forest. He met Irene Fuller during a winter blizzard in 1932, and they married on May 27, 1936.
For the next couple of years Irene taught school and Dad helped maintain the school and drive school bus, working summers for the Forest Service. In 1938, they started a dairy at Jump Off Joe Lake near Chewelah, Wash., where their son Jim was born in 1945. Dad built a house, cleared land, and expanded his operations. Then, in the spring of 1946, the family moved to a wheat farm north of Worley.
In 1959 he bought property on Lake Coeur d’Alene and eventually built a summer cabin. The “lake” became a favorite place to be on the Fourth of July where family and friends gathered every year. He always had a boat and enjoyed trips up and down the lake and loved taking kids water skiing and getting them up for the first time. For Dad the lake was a place of rest and reflection. He liked quiet, sunny October days best, but he was never idle long and would often be found with a hammer or a chainsaw in his hand.
Dad and Mom sold the farm in 1966 and semi-retired, moving to Dalton Gardens, Idaho. Over the next 10 years he and a partner developed property near Kellogg, Idaho, and on Lake Coeur d’Alene. After a long illness, Irene died of cancer on Feb. 14, 1978. Dad always had an interest in airplanes and wanted to fly. As a boy he made models, and as a young man helped barnstormers clean and care for their planes in return for rides. With Irene’s passing, Dad decided it was time to fly. So, at age 65 he bought a Cessna 150, got his pilot’s license, and took off.
It was through flying that he met Betty Graham of Pullman, Wash. and they married on July 14, 1979. With that marriage Dad inherited a whole new family; Gerry, Carol, and Judy. Dad and Betty bought a motorhome and a newer plane and traveled the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as taking many enjoyable trips and cruises abroad. When Dad was in his 80s he stopped flying, but soon took up building and flying radio controlled models. He finally hung up his frequency pin in his mid-90s.
In 2014 Dad and Betty moved into an independent living facility in Mesa, Ariz.
Around 1958 Dad asked Christ to be his Savior, and as his faith grew, he quietly shared his faith with others and became a man of prayer and wise counsel. Dad was a quiet man, never up in front, but working behind the scenes getting things done. He was a man of strong character who people liked and respected. He believed that a man’s word was his bond and that was the most important thing you owned.
Dad served as a trustee on the Worley School Board for 13 years, and for many years was a director on the board of the Rockford Grain Growers Co-op. He was an active church member and served as an elder in the Worley Community Church, and later was involved in churches in Coeur d’Alene. Dad liked people and made friends easily, and was always ready to lend a hand; putting on a roof, hanging a cabinet, fixing a car. He loved the beauty of God’s creation in all its wonder, whether traveling or sitting on the deck at the lake watching a summer sunset.
Dad had a full, productive and rewarding life. If there is something that needs fixing in Heaven you’ll probably find Dad lending a hand. He will be making new friends and exploring new wonders.
Dad is survived by his wife, Betty; sons, Jim (Maggie) of Wenatchee, Wash.; Gerry (Lisa) Graham of Mesa,; daughters, Carol (Chuck) Jones of Mesa and Judy (Dave) Bender of Edgewood, Wash.; nine grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Melvin and Olga; infant daughter, Janet; and wife, Irene.
A private celebration of life will be held on Saturday, March 17, 2018, at the Legacy Retirement Community in Mesa. Arrangements made by Mariposa Gardens.