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Obituary

James A. Bailey died on May 1, 2018 in his home surrounded by family. He was born on January 24, 1933 in Chicago. This is what he wrote:
My enthusiasm for family, friends, lumber and photography defined my life. If you knew me, read this. I wrote it just for you: I attended East High School, and graduated from Michigan State University. I served in the United States Navy, then became a lumberman, following my father and his father in the lumber business, a generation span which covered over a 125 years. I had a lifelong desire to remember the important things in my life, through photography. My family meant the world to me. My friends made life fun and worthwhile. The luckiest day of my life was the day that I married Carolyn Elaine Kent in California in 1957. We moved to Rockford, (Carolyn as a true California Girl never quite forgave me for that). I was president of the Unitarian Universalist Church for two terms, a member of the board of directors of the North American Wholesale Lumber Association, a board member of the Rockford Dance Company, and its representative on the River Front Museum Park Building Committee. I received service recognition from W.A.V.E., and the "Service above Self" award from the Rockford Rotary Club.
I was predeceased by my sister, Norma Shelden and brother in law, Jim Shelden. I am survived by my wonderful, kind and generous wife, Carolyn; my beautiful daughters, Jamie Johannsen and Lynn Clark; sons in law, Charles Johannsen and Ken Clark; five marvelous grandchildren, Eric S. Johannsen, James Stuart Johannsen, Elena Lynn Johannsen, Meredith Bailey Clark, and Sarah Ainsley Clark; nieces, Julie Shelden Trowbridge, Lisa Hersom, and Kristen Kent; nephews, Jim Shelden Jr., Randy Shelden, and Charles Shelden; and brother in law, Gary Kent.
Time to pack it in.
A memorial service will be held at 10:00 am on Friday, May 25, 2018 in the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner Street, Rockford. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Unitarian Universalist Church or the Rockford Dance Company, 711 N. Main St. Rockford, IL 61103.

Condolences & Shared Memories (22)

  1. Judy Letourneau

    Jim was a light in the YMCA SilverSneakers classes. He has been really missed. I liked to see his smiling face and watch him cool down giving himself a back rub with the ball. Many condolences to his wife and family.

  2. John Goddard

    My condolence to the Bailey family. Last week I was saddened to read of Jim's death. I knew that he was very ill and was hoping for good news. I have many wonderful memories of good times with him and our group of friends. I wish that I could have shared some time with him in more recent years. He more often than not was well prepared for our encounters, especially our annual September tennis cruises on his brother-in-law's “boat” on the Rock River. He had a ritual especially prepared for those chilly cruises. You have my greatest sympathy because I know you feel the loss of such a dynamic personality very deeply and I am very sad to lose yet another old friend. Sincerely, John Goddard

  3. Evie Webster

    Jamie, Heartfelt sympathy to your family. May the memories you share for a man well-loved bring peace to our broken hearts. From your father's writing, it is easy to see where you gained your love of nature and your compassionate heart. May God bless you in this time of sadness. Love, Evie

  4. Mona Lindvall

    Jaime, I was so sad to read of your father's passing. Thinking of you, wishing for peace and healing for you and your entire family. Much love to you, my friend.

  5. Beth L. Parentice

    Oh Jamie, this was just beautiful. Your dad was obviously a loving and devoted father and husband, who cherished his family above all else. My deepest sympathies to you and your family.

  6. Lyn Johannsen

    So sorry, Jamie. Lyn

  7. Sue Salvi Buckwalter

    Jamie, So sorry for the loss of your father. I loved how he wrote his own obituary, he sounds like a great guy. It's hard to lose our dads but we were blessed to have the best. Wishing you peace.

  8. Carolyn Cadigan

    Dearest Jamie, Elena, Jimmy, Carolyn, Charles and all the Bailey clan, I am thinking about you so much and wishing you peace at this time. What a wonderful man who was such a light in your lives and the lives of many he touched. Much love to you all.

  9. VickI Tuschen

    Dear Jamie, what a character your father must've been. I've delighted in the stories you've shared about him and yourself. It's very evident what a big part he was to your life. How special to read the love he had for all of his family. Please continue to share his stories, I will listen and delight in them with you. Hugs to you and your family!!

  10. Linda Lawrence

    Dear Jamie: Please hug your mom for me and know I hold you and your family in my loving thoughts as you adjust to life without your dad. Such a fine man! His legacy of love and good works lives on.

  11. Rich Muniz

    Jamie, my sincerest condolences. I know how hard it is to lose your dad. I didn't know your father, but he must have been a heck if a guy to raise such a wonderful daughter. You'll be in my thoughts and I'll be sending love your way.

  12. Mary and Peter Anderson

    Carolyn, Jamie and family.. We have the highest regard for Jim and all his accomplishments and contributions over the years. It was always a pleasure to run into him at church and at the Y, seeing his warm smile. He will long be remembered. Our hearts go out to you at this very sad time. Mary and Peter Anderson.

  13. Craig Campbell

    James was sublime with his infectious enthusiasm and light. May his light endure for all of us.

  14. Jon McGinty

    Jim Bailey was a mentor, friend, fellow photographer and creative collaborator. I think we first met at the Unitarian Church in the early 70s. Over the years we put on several slide shows, attended many photo workshops together, and collaborated on lots of projects. I think I photographed at least one daughter's wedding, if not both.He was always friendly, supportive and a great guy. I will miss him.

  15. Patty Bachmann

    Dear Jamie, I am so sorry for your loss. Your father was a true gentleman. He was kind, loving, and funny. I am so glad I was able to meet him.

  16. A. Friend

    Elegant. Classic. Gracious and kind to everyone. A True Gentleman. Very rare. Thank you to his beloved family for sharing him with us and for giving us wonderful memories for years to come. Wishing you Peace.

  17. Gayle Worland

    I grew up next door to Jim and Carolyn Bailey when they lived on Hilton Avenue, and was best childhood friends with their daughter Jamie. Jim was a tall, handsome, athletic man with a huge ACHOO! we could hear across his yard to ours. He built an amazingly solid deck, tree house and swing set from redwood in the Baileys' backyard that we gave plenty of use. We used to marvel at his photography, and all his tools of the trade. He was artistic, and yet a solid guy, the kind of dad or best-friend's-dad that you always knew you could depend on -- like that towering tree house. The Baileys were amazing parents and always made me feel welcome. Jim and Carolyn were also always ahead of the times. They were runners before running became all the rage. They went to Mexican restaurants before everyone else did. They were as good-looking as movie stars, and yet grounded, funny and incredibly generous with their time and kindness. Jim Bailey, or "Mr. Bailey" as I knew him, had the kind of smile that lit up a room, and was the personification of the word "gentleman" -- handsome, sporty, artistic, an ace at business, yet sincerely caring to all those around him. He was also the dad of one of the dearest people I know. I am so glad he got to live a long, active life. I cherish those photos of all the Bailey clan that came to my mailbox every year at Christmastime, glowing with the fun of summer that everyone in their very close family shared. Love, Gayle Elaine

  18. Lee Tollefsrud

    Jim was just always a pleasure. He had a great smile and he wasn't afraid to use it. He will, no doubt, be missed. My deepest sympathy to his family and all who cared for him.

  19. Tim Tollefsrud

    When I was maybe 12/13 years old some neighbor boys and I were possessed of utter stupidity round about Halloween. We soaped the windows of the Bailey's family home. It became obvious that I and my friends were the guilty goofballs. I took a seriously long walk to the Bailey's house the next day and told the story to Jim and Carolyn. I was a complete mess of guilt and shame. What I found from Jim and his wife that day was their compassion for people. I wasn't punished. They listened to me tell the story with a trembling voice. We went out and Jim and I cleaned the windows. I knew him as an adult and never forgot his kind forgiveness. It might have been small to him - to me, it was huge. As a teenager I was a student in his film making class at the Unitarian Church. Jim Bailey was always a thoughtful giving man. The last time I saw him was after the service for the passing of my father Dean 2 years ago last month. I had been exhausted from traveling to Illinois and drained from nervousness over addressing the congregation that day. Jim came to me in the community coffee room after the service, and told me, "Today you did your father proud." He had a warm smile and a firm handshake. It really meant a lot to me. How he was as a neighbor, a community mentor, and a member of the Unitarian Church community will never be forgotten. I am saddened to hear that he has passed. More lightly, I would say I was so shocked because he always appeared to be the "Dick Clark" in the room. There was a bright and youthful energy about Jim that will always be unforgettable to me. He really did make the world feel like a smaller, kinder warmer place. To all of the family survivors - You we're lucky - we were all lucky to know such a man. He was one of the people I knew that made me want to be a better man. So, in this way, he is surely living beyond his time. Thinking of him and all of you now. Blessings to all. :-)

  20. Annika Gustafson Russo

    Jim--You always captured the truth of the dance so that dance-enthusiasts could see the movement again in a new light. You brought respect and humility to your photo shoots and always made us feel comfortable and confident. Godspeed on this new adventure! I pray that your family will find peace in your photos which captured your special way of looking at the world and in the memories that your pictures will inspire for each of them of your warm heart and smile.

  21. Carol Hamer

    It saddens me to know that I'll never accidentally run into my dear friend, Jim. The years that I worked for him, actually I should say "with" him as he never made me feel like I was working for him, were some of my most enjoyable. It was also fun to be around his dad, Norm, when our offices were in the lower level of their home. Norm always was so proud of his rose gardens. Jim was one of the kindest, most considerate men I've ever had the privilege to know. Carolyn, you are in my thoughts and prayers at this very sad time. My condolences are also with Lynn and Jaimie and their families.

  22. Jerra Lynne Beckhart

    My husband, Don, and I were so saddened, Carolyn, that you have lost your friend, husband, father of your two lovely daughters. We remember with such pleasure our RV trip in 2000 which took us to Rockford and to your home. It was as if no time had passed from college days in the mid-1950's to present. We cherish our long time friendships, our presence in your wedding, and other times we have been together. Another time, the 1970's, when I lived in Boulder, Colorado, my husband and I went skiing to Winter Park. We stopped at one of the stores after skiing and who should I see when I rounded a corner but Jim. Neither of us could be more surprised and pleased! We were able to see both you, Jim, and Carolyn. It was the only time while I lived in Colorado that we skied in Winter Park. I think the good Lord put us there to see you! Lots of fond memories. It is such a great loss of a really good man--the world needs more like Jim. It reminds me of what my mother used to say and, that is: "So many men, so many minds, so many paths that wind and wind, and all this old world needs is the art of being kind." I think that both you, Carolyn, and Jim epitomize this. My mother did not know who wrote it but it has stuck in my mind forever. We know you have gone to heaven, Jim, and that we will all meet and be together one day. We look forward to seeing and being with you again, God willing.


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