Charles Alan Bailey, a passionate educator with a fierce love of learning and music, passed away November 12, 2022 at age 79. Born in Marion, VA on March 9, 1943 to Roy Lee Bailey and Ennice Brookes Bailey, he grew up alongside his elder brother Robert Edward Lee and younger brother Michael David, graduating from Marion High School in 1961.
Charles later attended and graduated from Concord College with a degree in music education funded in no small part by working summers in the Grand Tetons maintaining trails. He would go on to study the clarinet, flute, and trumpet, along with other instruments, solidifying his love of music which he would share with his future students at Richlands High school as Band Director, a position he held up until the summer of 1972.
He yearned, though, to continue his education, eventually leaving Richlands High School to move west, settling in the Valley of the Sun to study at Arizona State University. He delivered the Arizona Republic morning edition for 14 years to fund an increasingly long list of scholastic interests: Philosophy, Literature, Mandarin, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Arabic, German, French, Latin, and Spanish. Though he achieved conversant levels of mastery in a majority of the above languages, he was nevertheless always quick to downplay his achievements and assert that he was only fluent in one language – English.
In 1986, he accepted a position in the Scottsdale Unified School District to teach German and French and afterwards moved to Saguaro High School as an instructor of Latin and Spanish. He was a passionate teacher, a devoted advocate of the profession, and was beloved by his students. In a recent and poignant remembrance, a former student remarked that: “Mr. Bailey’s classes were always packed – and that wasn’t because high school kids were dying to study Latin. It was because they wanted to be around and learn from him.” He also assisted and directed various extracurricular clubs and activities that paralleled his interests, sponsoring the Latin Club, Young Democrats, Speech and Debate, and helping film basketball games for Coach Bob Larue, an activity he continued even in retirement.
Charles loved debating politics and philosophy and was an ardent fan of sports and competition. On his final day, he wanted to know if Saguaro High School had beaten Brophy in football the night before. And he never missed an opportunity to match wits during the nightly viewing of Jeopardy, a perfect pairing of all the things he loved – knowledge, competition, and his family. He loved them dearly and was loved by them in return. They will remember him as the man he was: extremely kind, generous, thoughtful, funny, hardworking, and intelligent. He is survived by his wife of 45 years Elizabeth Ann, his two daughters Stephanie and Elizabeth, his two sons Benjamin and Andrew, his previous wife Marian, brother Michael of Smithfield, NC, grandchildren Sophia, Alfonso, Amanda, and Heather, great grandchild Kendilyn, along with many nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held at 1pm with memorial service at 2pm this Saturday, November 26, 2022, at Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Saint Mary’s Foodbank – condolences can be expressed at whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com.
I am sorry I cannot be with you at this time. My health is at the point I cannot travel. I loved Charles in spite of our differences. I know he was disappointed the Yankees did not win. I wish peace for all of you, and I will keep you in my prayers. Mike and Kaye Bailey
I’m so very sorry for your loss. I hope, as I have been trying to, you and your family find some comfort in the knowledge your father achieved much, loved on his family and is now whole again and no longer bearing the weight of his earthly body. Sending up prayers for peace, love and light on you and your family during this time.
Charles Bailey changed my life through his passion for teaching. He helped me see that education went beyond the classroom and could also be found through debate and discussion. I pray that his family will know solace.
There are teachers and there are teachers; Senor Bailey was very much the later. Across four years of Latin, Speech and Debate, and Young Democrats, I was lucky to be able to also play hearts with he and friends at lunch period. He was an amazing human being, who taught passion and humanity in equal parts to his great intelligence and wit. I’m thankful to have been able to learn from him.
So grateful for my time with Senor Bailey. I send my heart and condolences to all his loved ones. I got 4 years of Latin with him and I was actually often in trouble in his class the first two years, spending many periods out in the hallway. Yet we still had a talk each year about how I could better focus myself, and I can certainly say he was the greatest teacher of my youth. If I am ever couth it will entirely be because of you Charles Bailey. So blessed to be one of the many minds you molded.
I want all former students to know that I truly enjoy reading your stories. If you are thinking about commenting but deciding not to because of how much later this is than the funeral – please still comment. My dad was very private and we his immediately family didn’t often hear much about his teaching – so its very enjoyable to read about his impact on so many lives.
Thanks so much and please keep sharing!
Charles Bailey was an exceptional human being.
Every experience in his presence was lesson in what power could be. He wasn’t the loudest. He didn’t speak without purpose. He didn’t seek the spotlight or attention. He never spoke down to students. He was refreshingly direct. When he would delight us with a witty zinger or a gentle earned ribbing, it traveled fast.
Mr. Bailey showed up. He picked up Speech and Debate when we (and our black holes of tournament weekends) consistently struggled to find a teacher to sponsor us. He stayed for the entire night of Relay for Night, surrounded by freezing students who absolutely adored him. He never seemed tired or to be phoning it in. In a materialistic, label conscious high school, Charles Bailey made taking Latin fashionable. Bailey helped generations of high achievers reach their goals. Wherever those achievements led us, I think many of us still have “Will I this cause me to lose Bailey’s respect?” within our mind’s decision chart.
A giant oak tree of a man.