Column by TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
“Checking your potential” was the sermon title at my church on Sunday morning. I didn’t have to look further than the obituary section of Sunday’s Bluefield Daily Telegraph for an example of someone who lived up to his.
Word spread fast across Mercer County at week’s end of the death of Everette K. Bailey Jr. of Princeton at the age of 65.
I could easily fill up this column re-hashing the many worthwhile endeavors that Bailey performed for his city, his county and his state, but it’s worth noting a few items again for the benefit of readers of the sports pages.
He established the boys soccer program at Princeton Senior High and coached the team for 15 years. He will be remembered as “the voice of the Tigers,” for decades manning the public address microphone for PSHS girls and boys basketball games.
He and his wife of 43 years, Carol, received the Distin-guished Service Award from the West Virginia Athletic Directors Association.
He was one of those who helped the Greater Princeton Little League get established on its fields in Gardner. He also was active in the Princeton City Football League and the Mercer County Soccer League.
More often than not, when I visited the State Fair of West Virginia, Everette and Carol Bailey would greet me with big smiles at the 4-H exhibit building. For many years, they volunteered to work at the exhibit hall.
A 4-H All-Star, he was a camp counselor at the county camps at Glenwood and at the state level at Jackson’s Mill. For more than 40 years he was a volunteer leader of Mercer County 4-H clubs.
I also often observed that he got maximum effort from his Princeton Tigers soccer team, not by yelling at them or threatening them, but by working patiently with them and building bonds. The boys’ response was to work hard, so as not to let their coach down.
After soccer matches, he wasn’t like many coaches, giving slick and self-serving answers about the outcome of the game.
To tell the truth, he didn’t enjoy having his comments recorded for all to see. He always seemed concerned that his answers could be misinterpreted in a negative way.
But he knew it was part of the job and he graciously agreed to interviews, even after a tough loss and even when it involved reporters who were not that knowledgeable about soccer strategy.
He loved the game, and he loved the students even more. He didn’t want anything to spoil that.
It has been my pleasure in 13-plus years to interview gentlemen like Bailey, and the late Sam White, John Flournoy, Morgan Campbell and Glynn Carlock Sr. (Gee, I know I’m leaving people out.)
On Sunday afternoon, I plied back and forth through a crowded parking lot at Memorial Funeral Directory and finally found a parking space with the hope that I could meet briefly with Bailey’s family. The line to do that included literally hundreds of people.
Current and former coaches were there, along with school personnel, 4-H alumni, and folks who worked with Bailey at the state Department of Highways during his 33-year career there. Now-retired Princeton Times sports writer Ed Robinson traveled hundreds of miles to be there.
A younger group was also in evidence. It is likely that the many faces were those of current Princeton students, former Tiger soccer players and basketball players, those who the Baileys had touched through Project Graduation at PSHS, and many, many more.
It was a remarkably diverse outpouring of support from people who cared. I hope it helped console his family.
The list of Bailey’s community service activities is long. The legacy he leaves will be much longer. It’s impossible to come up with a good estimate of how many thousands of young people are better human beings because of him and the activities he helped foster.
The world would be better off with more Everette Baileys.
Tom Bone is a Daily Telegraph sports writer and cartoonist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.