William Michael Bailey, 68, professor of economics

May 24, 2006|By FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN | FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN,SUN REPORTER

William Michael Bailey, a longtime heart transplant survivor whose career teaching economics at Washington College spanned more than three decades, died of cancer Saturday at Chester River Hospital Center. The Chestertown resident was 68.

Born in Hobbs, N.M., and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, he earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1959 from North Texas State University in Denton. He earned a master's in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park and earned his doctorate there in 1973.

Dr. Bailey taught economics at American University in Washington and at College Park before joining the Washington College faculty in 1975. He was chairman of its department of economics from 1975 to 1987, and was a member of the college's finance committee and an adviser to the Young Democrats Club and Investment Club.

During his tenure as department chairman, Dr. Bailey was credited with turning economics into one of the college's most popular majors.

Dr. Bailey, who enjoyed wide popularity with students and colleagues, had not taught for the past year because of illness and was to have officially retired at the end of the month.

Last Wednesday, colleagues and friends gathered at a retirement party in Chestertown to recall his years at the college. Dr. Bailey was unable to attend, having entered the hospital, family members said.

"He was highly regarded among his peers for his keen intelligence, his passion for economic history and his philosophical grounding in economics," said Marcia Landskroener, director of communications at Washington College.

Eric Dalski, a former student whose remarks were read at the party, described Dr. Bailey as a "man of stories and words," whose "teachings sparked ideas and understandings not only in the field of economics, but on life lessons as well."

Another former student, Marisha Bandara Tilaka, wrote, "Thank you for keeping me awake during your classes. It's one reason I am employed right now."

"His main areas of teaching were economic history and American industrial history. He was a voracious reader and had a passion for detail and knowledge. I called him a professional student because he was always reading," said Robert G. Lynch who succeeded him as department chairman.

"At a time of difficulty with the college budget about 15 years ago, it was indeed Michael Bailey, as chairman of the faculty finance committee, who was able to help the college trim the budget rather than laying off any of its people. And for him, this was a crucial act," said Steven Cades, chairman of the sociology department.

"We were able to go forward with all of our people, which for him meant those from the groundskeeper and dishwashers to the college president and all of the other people in between," he said.

After receiving a heart transplant in 1988, Dr. Bailey became an outspoken advocate for organ donation and often spoke to philosophy students taking the medical ethics class at Washington College about his personal experiences dealing with and benefiting from another's death.

"He often said that he wanted to live his life in a way that would be `some small recompense' for the life of the 25-year-old heart donor whose life was lost," Ms. Land- skroener said.

"He was one of the longest-surviving transplant patients in the country," said his wife of 24 years, the former Margo Goggins, who is Chestertown's mayor. "He said his heart transplant allowed him to see his son grow up and gave him a `second chance at a piece of life.'"

Active in the community, Dr. Bailey, a liberal Democrat, had been a member of the Chestertown Town Council for eight years and was a former chairman of the Kent County Historical Trust.

"He was a true Renaissance man. He loved Celtic music, played the guitar and learned to play the lap harp," Mrs. Bailey said.

Services are private.

Also surviving are five sons, Steven Eric Bailey of Beaver, Pa., Owen R. Bailey of Chestertown, and William Joel Bailey, Keith M. Bailey and Colin Curtis Bailey, all of Fort Worth; three stepdaughters, Nancy Nicholson Priest of Severna Park, and Carrie Nicholson and Maren Nicholson, both of Hoboken, N.J.; his father, William L. Bailey, and a brother, Richard Bailey, both of Houston; and 10 grandchildren. An earlier marriage to the former Carolyn Story ended in divorce.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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