By Kathy Blake

Ray Bailey had this solidarity with nature. He was an outdoorsy guy who liked to fish, but it’s the squirrel story that’s the sweetest.

“When he lived with (his daughter) Dianne, he had their squirrels trained where they would jump in his lap and eat,” said Cathy Bailey, of Statesville, his daughter-in-law. “One of them would take a peanut out of his teeth and run off with it. He’d take a peanut and put it in his front teeth, and the squirrel would pull it out with his little paws.”

Bailey died Sept. 10, shortly after midnight, at the Brian Center nursing home in Mooresville. He was 90.
He spent his entire life in Iredell and Mecklenburg counties, except for the segment he was most proud of – serving in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge, the German offensive that took more than 19,000 American lives.

Bailey married his wife, Lois, in 1940 when she was 16 and he was 18, and took off to serve in the U.S. Army as a medical technician.

“One of his most hilarious stories was that they (medical personnel) didn’t carry guns, and this enemy soldier came running up to him and wanted to surrender and gave him his gun. He said, ‘There I was, standing there, with this soldier and a gun, and I didn’t know what to do,’” said daughter Dianne Hager, 65, of Cornelius.

But Bailey also would tell his three children the other side.

“That big (medical) badge on his arm was like a target,” Hager said. “They didn’t care if you were a medic or not. He would say that there was a lot of gore that went on, and you babies don’t need to know about that. You don’t want your children to go through it. But to live in a free society, we have to do what we have to do. He was very patriotic.”

Bailey worked for the logging company that cleared land for Charlotte Motor Speedway, and worked for a machinist company in Charlotte and for Huntersville Ford. He moved in with Hager in 1972, when Lois died.

He had six grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and was the next-to-youngest with eight siblings. Little children were his audience.

“If you wanted to talk about it, he would sit and talk about the war, particularly the Battle of the Bulge,” Cathy Bailey said. “The older grandsons, he would tell them what happened. … He would say he walked all the way across Europe and froze his feet off.”

Bailey was awarded the Distinguished Unit badge, American Theater Campaign medal, Good Conduct medal, three Bronze Stars, a Victory medal and AR 600-68 EMET Campaign medal.

“A lot of young people respected him. He would do things with them,” said Hager. “He loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren dearly. He was a pet lover and a fish lover. When the children were growing up, they always had a dog of some kind.”

He would tell a story, about marrying so young. When he and Lois were courting, when they went outside, they had to stand under the streetlight in front of grandma’s house, so they could be seen.

Good memories.

Ray Darbert Bailey

CORNELIUS – Funeral services for Ray Darbert Bailey were held Sept. 12 in the chapel of James Funeral Home. Burial followed at Mt. Zion Community Cemetery.

Bailey, 90, of Cornelius, died Sept. 10 at the Brian Center in Mooresville.

Born Aug. 26, 1922, in Iredell County, he was a son to the late John and Essie Sherrill Bailey.

As a medical technician in the US Army, he served in the Battle of the Bulge and was a lifelong resident of Mecklenburg County.

He was preceded in death by his wife Lois B. Bailey; brothers, Willis, Alfred and Kenneth Bailey; sisters, Helen Tucker, Ruth Martin, Loyce Bailey and Jessie Byers.

Survivors include his sons Steve and wife Pat of Mooresville and Gary and wife Cathy of Statesville; daughter, Dianne Hager and husband Billy Ray of Cornelius; grandchildren, Terry M. Bailey, Clif G. Hager and wife Michelle, Nick R. Bailey and wife Cindy, Eric Bailey, Johnny F. Goodman and wife Shannon, April H. Howard and husband Rodney; great-grandchildren, River Austin Howard, Colton Ray Hager, Walker Lee Hager, Ayden Ray Bailey and Peyton Neil; brother Authur “Art” Bailey.

Memorials may be made to The Church of God, 20401 Hickory St., Cornelius, NC 28031.