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Mary "Ruth" Bailey (née Butler) died peacefully in her home on Sunday, June 9, 2019. She was 98 years old.
Born to Tom and Pearl (Haynes) Butler on August 20, 1920, Ruth grew up on the family homestead in the “big white house” just off Woolen Store Rd. While she was an only child, a bounty of Butler and Haynes cousins ensured that Ruth understood the joys and tribulations of growing up with a sibling. She was particularly close to her cousin Carlyle Butler, for whom she often baby-sat and took credit for his good upbringing. This bond, forged in childhood, may be what led to them later in life dressing alike at family functions without prior communication.
Ruth graduated from a small high school in Reidsville, NC. She enrolled at Woman’s College (WC) (now UNC-G), graduating in 1942 with a BS in Home Economics. Following graduation, Ruth was employed by the Extension Service in Durham County, NC, where she met Warren H. Bailey. The two fell in love . . . and throughout their sixty-six years of marriage, the two remained giddy with admiration for each other.
“I married a good girl, that’s the big thing,” Warren said when describing Ruth in an article announcing the Ruth Butler Bailey Merit Scholarship for the UNC-G School of Human Environmental Sciences. Warren described establishing the scholarship because “[s]he’s been a great mother and a wonderful wife. She’s modest...but I wanted to honor her in some way.” Ruth returned the compliment: “You can tell I have a wonderful husband.” The scholarship was the second thing that Warren created to honor Ruth; the first was a gorgeous camellia bush that he propagated himself and named after her. Today, both serve as lasting reminders of Warren’s love for Ruth.
Ruth cherished her time as a young homemaker and raising her two sons: William B. Bailey (Wilmington, NC) and Daniel K. Bailey (Wentworth, NC). Ruth managed the household and raised her boys while Warren was away serving during WWII. After he returned, Ruth continued as the primary support for the family while Warren managed several Agricultural Research Stations around NC (including Raleigh, Rocky Mount, and Salisbury). Both her surviving sons remember her as a kind and patient mom who encouraged them to pursue their goals. In addition to being a wife and mom, Ruth was active in the PTA, the Homemaker’s Association of Professional Home Economists and numerous other community activities.
Ruth and Warren traveled throughout the world and down the road. For the latter, Ruth and Warren’s travels often took them to NC State games, where Ruth provided a calm foil to her husband’s zealous Wolfpack superfandom. She was a family and fan favorite at football tailgates for her never-ending cooler of pimento cheese sandwiches and sweet tea. Always prepared, her car was stocked for every possible emergency, including aspirin for when Warren would start up about the post-game traffic on I-95 while Ruth drove them home to Rockingham County, NC.
Ruth was a loving grandmother to her four grandchildren: Meredith C. Bailey (Chicago, IL); Regan M.A. Bailey (deceased); William T.B. Bailey (Raleigh, NC); and Michael G. Bailey (New York, NY). She was also a proud great-grandmother of Hazel Bailey (daughter of William T.B. Bailey & Allison Bailey (Raleigh, NC)). All were blessed to receive many letters from Ruth, which caused them to squint, then smile, reading how proud she was of each of them in her tiny, perfect penmanship.
Ruth returned home to Rockingham County, NC in 1975 with her family to take care of her ailing parents. She became an active member in Midway United Methodist Church, and, together with Warren, formed strong friendships within the community. She learned to use e-mail and Facebook, and enjoyed communicating with distant friends and relatives well into her 90s. After Warren died in 2010, Ruth received frequent visitors from family and friends, and around-the-clock care from a team of caregivers led by Audrey Wilson (Reidsville, NC). The Bailey family wishes to thank Audrey and all who provided care and support that allowed Ruth to remain in her home and grant her final wish to be at home when she died. We also wish to extend a special thanks to Catherine Bailey (Wilmington, NC) and Lois L. Bailey (Greensboro, NC) for their love and support of Ruth over the years.
A visitation will be held at Citty Funeral Home, located at 308 Lindsey St., Reidsville, NC, on Friday, June 14, 2019 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
A service celebrating Ruth’s life will be held at Midway United Methodist Church, 10930 US 158 West, Reidsville, NC, on Saturday, June 15, 2019, at 11 a.m. A lunch reception at the church will follow. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Ruth’s life.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Ruth’s memory to:
Midway United Methodist Church
10930 US 158 West, Reidsville, NC 27320
Online condolences may be made at www.cittyfh.com
Midway United Methodist Church
10930 US 158 West, Reidsville NC 27320