Local ag leaders remember influence of Charles Bailey

Published 7:16 pm Friday, April 1, 2016

By Carolyn Iamon & Powell Cobb

The Post-Searchlight

Charles F. Bailey, 89, who passed away Wednesday, March 30, was an influence to many of Decatur County’s leading agriculturalists.

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As the Vocational Agriculture instructor at Bainbridge for many years, he taught most of the farmers of Decatur County, including two or three generations of some of the families.

His obituary reads, “He was a legend to many students and their parents all over the southeast, molding young men and women wherever he went.”

The local farmers definitely concur with that statement.

“Of course he taught us about agriculture and cattle and all of that stuff, but the main thing is he taught us was about life,” farmer Andy Bell, who was taught and led by Bailey since he was in third grade, said.

Proper etiquette and life skills were at the forefront of Bell’s memories of the man, and those lessons still stick with him to this day.

“If you had your hands in pockets, he said get them out,” Bell said. “He said sit and stand up straight. He was always emphasizing those types of things. He knew as much as anybody about cattle and hogs, but I would emphasize more how he turned you into a man.”

Phil Long had Charles Bailey for an Ag teacher in the 1970s. He said Bailey had a huge influence on his life.

“He taught us so much more than agriculture,” recalled Long, who said Bailey always stressed “Honesty, Integrity and Hard Work.” Another of his favorite sayings was, “wherever you go in life, always remember where you came from.”

“He used to take 20-25 kids at a time and all their livestock to competition and look after all of us. He demanded our respect and we gave it to him,” said Long.

Once Long graduated from school, his contact with Bailey continued through the Young Farmers of Decatur County, which Bailey formed.

Long said he believes Bailey probably taught two or three generations of young farmers here. He definitely taught Phil’s father, Ben.

Alan Davis said, “He taught me most everything I needed to know about agriculture.”

Beyond that Davis said Bailey was almost like a second father to him. He traveled with the boys on trips to livestock shows and was a friend who very much cared about their wellbeing. “He made sure you were going in the right direction, and if you weren’t he would correct you,” Davis recalls with a chuckle. “He was definitely someone to look up to.”

Glenn Heard said he most remembers his work ethic and how he always told them to work hard. “He was someone you looked up to and tried to emulate.”

Van Smith said he was a life-long student of Charles Bailey. He began learning from him when his older brother was his student and continued when he was in school.

“He was one of the greatest men I ever knew. He could be your biggest critic but also your best friend.” Smith said he was like a daddy to most of the boys— a father figure you could talk to about anything. I owe all to him.”

He too, commented on how Bailey would take a group of 25-30 14-15 year-old boys and their livestock to the state fair, stay five days, and single handedly keep them all in line. “You didn’t want to disappoint him.”

Bailey’s full obituary can be found on Page 8A.