George Carson Bailey/Eulogy
December 13, 2000
Dad was born November 29, 1935 in Salyersville, Kentucky. Delivered by Dr. Conley, relative to Dad’s mom who was a Conley. Not only did we have a doctor in the family, but a preacher. Wallace Bailey was the pastor of the Baptist church in Salyersville around 1800. The Baileys and Conleys were well-known families in the community. In fact, they celebrated the Baileys on Founder’s Day 1986 in the small community of Salyersville. Dad told me once he was just a hillbilly from Kentucky. Those of you who knew him knew he was much more than a hillbilly.
You could describe dad as a loner, gypsy, stubborn, headstrong, spoke his mind, independent, unconventional and a strange mixture of a liberal conservative. I love my dad for many reasons one of which he was himself. You never wonder what dad meant, sometimes you wished he were a little more tactful in his delivery and tone. Yes, somewhat rough on the outside but warm on the inside.
Dad wanted badly to leave his small, rural roots, of Rensealer, IN. He struck out on his own early in life by joining the army. He served his country well for two years during the Korean conflict. He stayed stateside and even received a medal of conduct when Uncle Sam discharged him.
Part of his military travels brought him towards Huntsville, Alabama, where my mom-to-be had moved to the big city from Rockledge, Al. Dad did rob the cradle with a 17-year-old bride. I was soon born in 1960 and my brother Mitch three years later in 1963. Sadly, dad and mom’s marriage came to an abrupt end by divorce in 1965. Even as a five year old I was angry, hurt and disillusioned. However, looking back, the challenges our family experienced brought us closer to each other and to God
My Character Building
I learned forgiveness, hard work, discipline, teamwork and business savvy. Mostly, through this process; I found God through Jesus Christ. He is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. God is my motivation for being here today and for trying to be a good son to my dad.
Growing up, Mitch and I would travel a couple a weeks a year to visit dad and Pat. It was exciting going to places like Panama City, fishing with the Ford children, and catching our limit since the “blues” were “running.” The early days of travel to Dallas, Winston Salem, and Newark, NJ, whet my appetite to see places and experience people outside my world. This was another blessing under difficult circumstances.
It was hard for dad to share his inner feelings (as it is with most men), however he was compelled that Mitch and I learn from his mistakes from over the years. At age 40 I appreciate much more now his sermon about eating healthy, exercise and avoiding cigarettes. At age five knowing I was a curious and bold young man he lit me one up and had me smoke it. Of course, I turned first green, then pale, and proceeded to toss my cookies. Emotionally and physically I was converted. To this day I have not smoked a cigarette.
When I became a Christian in the spring of 1979, I wanted to express my newfound faith to those who I loved and respected. Some were elated, others unsure and a few thought I was off my rocker. Dad was in the third group. His response was, “son those church people have brainwashed you.” He said, “I have my own way of thinking. Preachers used to come over to our house and preach to me, so don’t preach to me” I learned real quickly, the best thing I could do was live my Christianity before dad by being a good son.
Two years after becoming a Christian, I excitedly told dad I had been called to a vocation of Christian ministry. He deflated my bubble and said, “son there is no money in that career choice, and whatever you do don’t go to Africa as a missionary.” However I could tell, Dad respected and loved me because he believed I would do what I thought was right and do it with a 110% effort.
As providence would have it, I attended Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth from 1982-85, the same time dad worked for General Dynamics. Rita and I and Rebekah (8 months old and only grandchild) would go by for regular visits to see dad and Pat. Our church was a mile from their apartment. I felt Dad and I grow much closer during this time. It was eerie how much I saw myself in him and how much he saw himself in me. Though we didn’t always agree, we respected and loved each other.
To be continued…
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