Dr. Bobbie Bailey 1928 - 2015
KENNESAW, Ga. (July 29, 2015) — The Kennesaw State University community is mourning
the loss of longtime friend and benefactor Dr. Bobbie Bailey. Dr. Bailey, who was
87, passed away on Saturday, July 25. She served as a Kennesaw State University Foundation
Trustee for more than 22 years and in 1998 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane
Letters in recognition of her extensive support for the University.
A memorial service will be held on the Kennesaw State campus at the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center on Saturday, Aug. 15, at 11 a.m.
“We are saddened by Bobbie’s passing, and we extend our condolences to her family,” said Kennesaw State University President Daniel S. Papp. “Bobbie lived a life of generosity and caring. She was larger than life and her incredible spirit, loyalty, and enthusiasm will be greatly missed.”
Dr. Bailey’s legacy at Kennesaw State is far reaching and began with women’s softball.
From 1960 to 1980, Dr. Bailey managed the Lorelei Ladies, an all-women’s fast-pitch softball team that played throughout the U.S. and won national championships several years in a row. In 1991, KSU initiated its first season of fast-pitch softball. At that time, Dr. Bailey had just met then KSU President Betty Siegel. As their friendship blossomed, Siegel introduced Dr. Bailey to then-Head Softball Coach Scott Whitlock. Soon after, Dr. Bailey adopted the Owls softball program as her own and provided scholarships for softball players. She also provided the lead gift for what is now the Bobbie Bailey Athletic Complex, dedicated in 2005 and the current home of Kennesaw State’s baseball and softball teams.
“The Owls softball program will always be identified with Dr. Bobbie Bailey and the Bailey family for their generosity and support,” said Whitlock. “Dr. Bailey’s concern and interest for opportunities for female athletes was ahead of its time. Her spirit and love of competition will always be a part of the KSU softball family.”
Dr. Bailey was also an avid music lover. She became a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1980, producing records on her own RX-Melody and Southernaire labels, and she served as president of the Friends of Georgia Music Festival, Inc. For the past 37 years, Dr. Bailey was executive producer of the annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
Over the years as she became more engaged with Kennesaw State, Dr. Bailey became a major supporter of KSU’s College of the Arts. What began with music scholarships by 2007 became an endowment and naming of the 624-seat Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center at Kennesaw State.
During the dedication ceremony of the Bailey Center, she surprised Kennesaw State officials by announcing that she was gifting 44 Steinway pianos to the university, thereby enabling KSU’s School of Music to earn the prestigious distinction of an All-Steinway School.
“Dr. Bailey had a profound and lasting positive impact on thousands of lives through her philanthropy. The College of the Arts benefits daily from her generous gifts,” said Patricia Poulter, dean of Kennesaw State’s College of the Arts. “Her enthusiastic sense of possibility infuses the very spirit of student, faculty, and community experiences in the College of the Arts. We are honored to continue her legacy.”
Born in Alabama and raised in LaGrange and then Atlanta, Dr. Bailey began her career by tuning race cars when she was 12 years old, discovering her gift for mechanics. During World War II, she worked for a company that refabricated refrigeration compressors, which led to the start of her own company, Our-Way, Inc. As sole owner and CEO, Dr. Bailey built the company into a $45 million-a-year enterprise, which employed more than 350 people, before she sold it to Carrier Corp. in 2001.
But her entrepreneurial endeavors did not end there. Dr. Bailey also ran three other businesses: Entertainment Resources Services (a mail order distribution company), Bailey Design (a residential construction company), and Southernaire Realty (a real estate holding company).
Dr. Bailey’s interests extended well beyond starting and running businesses. Her adventurous spirit led her to join the Greenland Expedition Society, which launched seven expeditions to Greenland to recover the “Lost Squadron” of World War II U.S. The “Lost Squadron” was a group of U.S. aircraft that crash-landed in Greenland and were hundreds of feet below the icecap. In 1989, Dr. Bailey and her team designed and fabricated the probes, casing, drilling shaft, and saws that retrieved a B-17 from the Lost Squadron. Three years later, Dr. Bailey’s team brought up an intact P-38 Lightning from 265 feet below the ice. In 2007, that P-38, the newly christened “Glacier Girl,” flew to Europe via Greenland to complete the World War II flight it had begun 55 years earlier.
Joe Meeks, retired dean of Kennesaw State’s College of the Arts, captured the sentiments of all who knew and were associated with Dr. Bailey: “Bobbie was my friend, my inspiration, my champion. I will miss her greatly. But when I look around at the unbelievable legacy she has left behind – in her buildings, in the scholarships she has endowed and the better lives she has created for so many people – I know her goodness and kindness to others will live on for generations to come.”
Memorial contributions in honor of Dr. Bailey may be made to the KSU Foundation for the Dr. Bobbie Bailey Music Scholarship or to the DeKalb Medical Foundation for the Emergency Department.