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Daddy Bailey's final journey

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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The mood was sombre last Wednesday as family, friends and associates filled the Church of St Margaret in Liguanea to celebrate the life of George Herman Bailey, who passed on July 20 after a short illness.

Bailey, on an overcast August afternoon, was hailed as the ultimate father who not only extended love to his biological children, but also to many others he came across.

Having spent several decades in Canada, Bailey returned to Jamaica in 1998 when he retired, committing his time to the Brotherhood of St Andrew (BSA), an organisation affiliated with the Church of St Margaret, whose mandate is to mentor young men across the island. Indeed, the Very Reverend Franklyn Jackson, who presided over the full Anglican mass, underscored the tremendous importance of mentoring marginalised young men. He also spoke of the parishioner's dedication to the Brotherhood of St Andrew.

“Brother George was a valuable member of the BSA,” recalled Winston Hutchinson, a member of the brotherhood, in his tribute.

“He attended meetings regularly and punctually, and always had interesting stories to tell. He travelled the length and breadth of the island on our monthly missions where he conducted morning services and Sunday School. “Brother George journeyed with us to churches in Southfield, St Elizabeth; St Ann; Yallahs, St Thomas; as well as to a number of dwindling church congregations in Kingston and St Andrew.

“Through his quiet and soft-spoken demeanour he assisted the BSA with the United States Agency for International Development to construct what was at that time the most modern basketball court in the English-speaking Caribbean for our neighbours in the Standpipe community,” Hutchinson said.

But by far exceeding his dedication to the brotherhood and his church family was his love for his children. Bailey's pride and joy were his two sons Donovan — the former world record holder and Olympic champion in the 100 metres at the 1996 Atlanta Games competing for Canada — and O'Neil, who competed in various sporting activities, including track and field, throughout high school.

“He was the proud father of his two sons... He had cherished photographs of Donovan breaking the world record, which he proudly, but humbly, donated to a few sports lovers of the BSA,” Hutchinson recounted.

Bailey's son O'Neil echoed this sentiment during the remembrance, saying “he was a dedicated father to his two boys”.

The third of eight children born to a family in Manchester, George Bailey learned early to be responsible when his father died at a young age. According to O'Neil, his father took on the brunt of the responsibility, ensuring that his mother was always well taken care of.

During his youth, George Bailey immigrated to Toronto, Canada, where he met and married Icylda, who predeceased him. His sons recounted that he “took on several jobs” to support his family and passed on treasured knowledge to them.

“His work ethic, which he imparted to the two of us, was exceptional, and he ruled with a heavy but gentle hand,” O'Neil shared, to the amusement of the congregants.

He also elicited laughter when he recalled his father's love of dancing and his appreciation of “a beautiful red dress on a woman”.

In the late 1970s George and his wife Icylda co-founded the Canadian Caribbean Association, bonding members of the Caribbean community and Canadians who came together for social events.

George Bailey was buried at Dovecot Memorial Park. He is survived by his children, siblings, grandchildren, relatives, and a host of friends.

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