Eugene Merle Bailey, of Yakima, formerly of New Port, Wash., died quietly in his cow shack near New Port on Oct. 2, 2013. Gene was born Aug. 25, 1934. He was born a Virgo which would explained his seeing everything differently. He did and would make me a little mad sometimes.
Gene was very proud of his life on his family farm. He was very proud of his parents Paul and Irene Bailey. I once told him I might have run away with his dad, if he had been available. Gene expressed to me many times his wish would be more kids growing up in the country and on farms.
Gene graduated from New Port High School. As a teen he started shoeing and training thoroughbred racehorses at a track in Spokane.
He joined and served in the armed forces. He was to be a shooter in the service (in Korea). He then was a post officer, as his assigned duty, for the Army.
He was very much a person that loved all animals.
He worked for the Herald Ring family, with Herald and son Mike Ring near Kelly Ferry, living with them as one of the family. They would run wild mustang horses up the Columbia River on ice, riding horses. Now there were some stories. His main career was an independent farrier having gone to Cal Poly, in California, working with the horseracing industry. Following that most of his adult life, he was also a blacksmith and welder, making many friends, lots of memories and stories, that should be compiled in a book, maybe.
Gene was very active in the Back Country Horsemen of Yakima and Washington State.
I can’t forget his mule string, naming them after my three sisters, Jean, Connie and Baby Carolyn. I was sad when he sold them or traded them off. The one he rode back in 1980 was named Shrinker. (For the psychiatrist?) In those days it was very fitting. Gene did have many nicknames: Old Muleskinner, Old Wild Horse, Mean Gene, the Iron Man.
He for years hunted in the Bitterroots of Idaho. He would pack the mules and hunt for two weeks or so in the fall. He and friends did very well there, until the wolves arrived.
Another part of his career was his cattle. He was often seen in Toppenish Thursday for the stock sale. Gene was very proud of his cattle and took a lot of pride in them. They were always well fed. Many of Gene’s friends were the real old time cowboys and cattle handlers. The song “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” was fitting. He did know several lawyers, vets, politicians, auctioneers, horse trainers and traders, and many farriers. I knew Gene would be looking at the horses, mules and cattle, visiting with everyone through it all. Gene treated all women with upmost respect. I would get to meet them by phone and take notes. I had a pretty good idea he would be home by evening.
Eugene is survived by his wife Billie D., sons Bill (Glenn) Bailey and family and Merle Eugene Bailey; also three stepchildren, Steve Van Kester, Debra Jean Bloomer and husband Kim, Barbara Jolene Mills and husband Joe; 11 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. He was very proud of all of them, and very much a family man. Not long ago he made the remark that really all he ever wanted was a good home for his family. He sure did win that race. He is also survived by one brother, Wes Bailey and family, two sisters, Edith Brewer and family and Lila Holiston and family, and one brother-in-law, James Brewer and family. He is preceded in death by his mom and dad, Paul and Irene Bailey, one sister, Milly Brewer, and one niece, Christy Bailey.
He did live the life he wanted to live, and died where he wanted to die. He really did go back home.
Not to forget our good friends at Zirkle Fruit’s cafeteria: the cooks, who are doing a fine job; and also Matson Fruit for their excellent help. We’d also like to extend thanks for the potluck dishes that will be at Gene’s celebration. We also must remember to thank Eugene Shields and company for allowing son Steve Keste to move our cattle home from New Port. It has been said that Gene Shields got son Pat and best friend Gary Lantrip to help him get the company up and going.
Gene’s celebration party will be at the Pomona Gun Club in East Selah, Saturday, November 9, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Thanks everyone, Billie D. and family.