John L. Bailey, Jr. passed away peacefully July 12 surrounded by family. He was born in Wheatland on Sept. 15, 1919. He grew up there, graduating from Wheatland High School in 1937.
Some of his early work involved digging postholes for the new telegraph line and driving an oil truck for the Blow Oil Company. Becoming a young man at that time enabled him to develop a passion for the new infant industry: aircraft and flying. His first plane was a small balsa wood plane from the Chicago World’s Fair. He learned to fly in Wheatland, and enlisted in the Army Air Corps, which later became the Army Air Forces and eventually the US Air Force. He received further military training, towed targets for pilots in training, completed three combat missions and was assigned transport flying from France to Brazil due to his ability to adjust the air-fuel mixture so well, learned at Phifer Airfield. He concluded his military career with a rank of 2nd Lieutenant. After WWII ended, John enrolled in the University of Wyoming and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was then hired by the Boeing Company in Seattle to work on designing aircraft instrument panels, circuits, cargo loading systems, and many other projects.
John married Edith W. (Howard) Bailey in 1943. Their family grew, with three married children, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. They have lived in the Seattle area for almost 70 years. John also enjoyed woodworking, painting, calligraphy, dancing, travel, and was a founding member of Lake Burien Presbyterian Church. For the past 10 years, he also was a caregiver for Edith as her eyesight and memory began to fail.
John is survived by his wife of 76 years, Edith, son John H., daughters Jo Ellen and Melinda, as well as six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, being preceded in death by his great-grandson Emerson. He was a loving and supportive son, brother, husband and father, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. In all he did, faith, family and integrity were important priorities.
A service at the Tahoma National Cemetery is planned for Sept. 13 and a memorial service at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church is planned for Sept. 15. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made in memory of John L. Bailey, ’49, for scholarships at The College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Wyoming Foundation, 222 South 22nd St., Laramie, WY 82070, or www.uwyo.edu/giveonline.