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William (Bill) George Bailey was born in Cortland, NY on Sunday November 15th as church bells rang around the city. He passed away on November 7th, 2023 at age 91. He passed on beautifully and in good health at his home in the arms of his son, John. Bill was a believer in Jesus Christ and now lives eternally in his presence.
He was the son of George Bartlett Bailey and Alice May Williams Bailey and resided in Dryden, NY the entirety of his life where he would become what some have referred to as a ‘pillar of the community’.
After graduating from Dryden High School in 1949, Bill went on to attend Cornell University and graduated from the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics. While at Cornell, Bill played Freshman baseball and was a member of the Cornell Marching Band. A highlight of his marching band experience was performing before 51,000 people in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the Cornell vs. Michigan football game in 1952.
By the wonderful hand of Providence, Bill would meet the love of his life, Jane Wight, at Cornell late in 1951 and be wed to her on July 3, 1954. They would enjoy each others love for 66 years of marriage until Jane’s passing on July 6, 2020.
Bill enlisted in the Army in November of 1953 and served on Okinawa and was honorably discharged in November of 1955. Upon his return to Dryden he began to work with his Dad in the George B. Bailey insurance agency. Bill would be a catalyst for the agency and used his youth, energy, and talents to grow the business. In 1957, he purchased the business from his father. Jane entered the business in 1970 and was instrumental in helping Bill with the business operations. She would not only be Bill’s life partner, but also part owner of the business.
Bill volunteered for the Professional Insurance Agents of New York (PIANY), which is a trade association that advocates on behalf of independent insurance agents across New York State. He would become President of PIANY in 1977 and be honored as the NY Professional Insurance Agent of the Year in 1979.
He would continue his service for the betterment of the insurance industry nationally when he became President of the the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) in 1984. PIA served over 40,000 members across the nation, hence Bill and Jane travelled across the country in 1984-1985 representing the association. Bill was honored to testify before Congress on behalf of PIA on an important insurance issue of the time.
He was awarded PIANY’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award in 1988.
While working and participating in raising a family of three, Bill also served his community. He played a significant role in attracting Tompkins Cortland Community College to move from Groton, NY to Dryden to build its new campus in 1974.
Some of his other service activities included: Past President of the Dryden Kiwanis Club, Lt. Governor of Kiwanis International, Director of the First National Bank of Dryden, Interim President of the Dryden Mutual Insurance Company, member of the Dryden Fire Department, and one of the co-founders of the very successful Dryden Kiwanis Baseball program.
He was an Elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Dryden where he was a member for almost 80 years.
The defining service of his life ultimately was as the loving, tenderhearted, and thoughtful caregiver to his beloved Jane, as she lived with dementia for over 12 years.
By every definition, Bill lived a wonder-full life of love with Jane, and his daughter Lee Ann Bailey Parker, and sons Robert W. Bailey and John W. Bailey, all of Dryden, NY. He was blessed by his loving grandchildren Molly Parker, Laura Parker Diedrickson (Zachery), Christopher Bailey, and Erika Bailey (fiancé Mike Goff) and his great grandchildren Maycee Mix and twins Charlotte and Kennedy Diedrickson.
Calling hours will be held from 4-6 pm on Friday December 1 at Perkins Funeral Home in Dryden. A service of celebration of Bill’s life will be held on Saturday December 2 at 2 pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Dryden, 6 North Street, Dryden.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be directed to First Presbyterian Church of Dryden, PO Box 42, Dryden, NY 13053 or Hospicare of Ithaca, 172 East King Road, Ithaca, NY 14850.
Topic: Bill Bailey
Time: Dec 2, 2023 01:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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