Robert Louis Bailey ("Bob"), 93, died at his home at the Village at Heritage Point in Morgantown, WV, on January 1. As an enthusiastic lover of the Fourth of July and fireworks, it was appropriate that Bob's passing followed shortly after the New Years Eve fireworks displays.
Bob was known to his family and friends as a truly good man, proud American, and classic gentleman, who lived his life with clarity, conviction, and purpose. The only grey in his life was his beautiful head of hair; everything else was black or white, right or wrong, and he believed that anything worth doing was worth doing well. Bob was modest in his wishes for himself and generous in his good wishes for other people.
If one were to write a top ten list for Bob, all ten spaces would be filled by Penelope, the love of his life and bride of 68 years. In photos taken throughout their lives, Bob would often look at Penelope rather than the camera. After Penelope, his list would include his great love for and keen interest in his children and grandchildren and their circle of friends. On Bob's 90th birthday, many young people sent Bob cards with thanks for showing them what it meant to be a good husband and father and letting him know they aspired to be like him.
Our memories of Bob will live on in his many simple gifts and strong teachings to us. If he had a motto, it would be that family comes first, always and without question. He loved and gave back to his community of Parkersburg, West Virginia, where he and Penelope met in high school and raised their family. He raised his children with a great passion for West Virginia, spending many vacations at our state's beautiful state parks and singing "The West Virginia Hills" with gusto on family road trips. He was a self-taught gardener and backyard bird watcher and each of his children plant zinnias (although their rows are likely not as precise as Bob's) and fill feeders, sharing excitement over sightings of birds more interesting than sparrows. Bob was a great teacher. All of the Bailey children graduated from the Bob Bailey school of driving and are skilled drivers of manual transmission cars and champion parallel parkers. Bob was also an old-school and straight-ticket Republican, volunteering his time for many local, state and national candidates.
Bob loved holidays, especially the Fourth of July and Christmas. He and his family would trek through the woods each year in search of the perfect, airy Christmas tree to chop down. He loved to decorate the tree with real and fragile aluminum icicles, which we would carefully place one-by-one on the tree each year, then remove one-by-one to reuse the next.
Bob was raised in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the son of K. Seaton and Agnes Krick Bailey. He was a 1943 graduate of Parkersburg High School. Following high school, he served in the US Navy on the USS Taconic. He was the first in his family to attend college, attending Georgia Institute of Technology on the GI bill. Bob was a proud "rambling wreck of Georgia Tech," double majoring in industrial and civil engineering. He ran on the Georgia Tech cross country team and cherished friendships made in his Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
Bob's professional career started at Rig and Reel in Oklahoma. Then he spent the remainder of his workdays in several roles at the American Cyanamid Company in Willow Island, West Virginia. He made the drive on Route 2 every day, carpooling with friends and coworkers, retiring after 37 years.
His service to community included being a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church, a member of the Wood County Chamber of Commerce, the Washington Avenue Historic District, the board of directors of Camden Clark Memorial Hospital and he served for many years on the WV State Water Development Authority.
In addition to being a Ramblin' Wreck, he remained a loyal Big Red and particularly since his move to Morgantown in 2012, an avid West Virginia University Mountaineer fan.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers Kenneth and Don and sister Marie Bailey Foley.
He is survived by his wife Penelope and was ever so proud of his four children, their spouses and his nine grandchildren: Benjamin Lee and wife Sarah Carden Bailey of Charleston, WV, and children Graham Bailey (29, NY, NY), Brent Bailey (27, NY, NY), Stella Bailey (9) and Elise Bailey (7), of Charleston, WV; Robert Brent Bailey and Elizabeth Cohen of Morgantown, WV, and daughters Suzannah Bailey (27) of Pittsburgh and Lillian Bailey (21) of Morgantown; Ann Bailey Berry of Morgantown and daughter Emma Berry (28) of Oakland, CA; and Matthew Krick Vocke Bailey and Erin Vocke Bailey, and children Ella (14) and Lee (11) Bailey of Greensboro, NC.
A memorial service will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family would suggest a donation to the Amedisys Hospice Foundation. Many of us will celebrate Bob's life by raising a glass of a cold draft beer, lighting a firecracker, planting an extra row of zinnias, and singing The West Virginia Hills as loudly and proudly as we can.
Hastings Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements and online condolences may be made www.hastingsfuneralhome.com.