Flint professor leaves legacy of integrity, respect
Charles “Chuck” Bailey, a popular associate professor at the University of Michigan-Flint for more than 30 years, is being remembered as a dedicated instructor and family man who went out of his way to help others.
Bailey, 62, of Flint, died Wednesday (11/26/08) at the Genesys Hospice Care Center in Goodrich after an off-and-on struggle with cancer. He had at least eight cancer surgeries over the years, along with several radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
Bailey was exposed to Agent Orange while he served in combat as a Green Beret in Vietnam in the 60s and he and his doctors had long blamed that exposure for his health problems. He was so badly wounded in the fight there it took him months to learn to talk and walk again.
“He was one tough guy who was fighting for his life, most of his life,” said friend Kirk Liebengood, a Flint attorney.
Bailey was a long time chairman of the social work department at UM-Flint and is credited with being one of two professors there to introduce the first curriculum on substance abuse east of the Mississippi river.
Later, he was one of the founders of UM-Flint’s School Education and Human Services, which is largely founded by the Mott Foundation. In August, he received the university’s Distinguished Service Award.
Kathleen Woehrle, who is now the chairman of the social work department, said Bailey was known for demanding the best of both his fellow faculty members and his students.
“He had a reputation of being a difficult and demanding professor who challenged everyone to strive for the best of their potential,” she said.
“We didn’t fully appreciate his rigorous standards until we surveyed students two years after they graduated and found many praised him for preparing them for the real world of work or graduate studies.”
Retired UM-Flint Chancellor Juan Mestas said he knew Bailey for nearly 10 years and always enjoyed his company.
“He was a great guy with a wonderful sense of humor,” Mestas said. “This is a great loss for the university.”
Bailey had a sterling reputation far beyond the academic world.
Chris Flores, vice president of the drug treatment program Insight, said Bailey served on the Insight board for years and was always a strong advocate for the mentally ill and those with drug and alcohol problems. Bailey also served on the board of Genesee County Community Mental Health for 22 years.
“He was always a voice for those who couldn’t speak for themselves,” Flores said.
Tom Coffey, a retired UM-Flint professor who worked wit Bailey when he was a graduate student and later as a professor himself, said he suspects more than 80 percent of those working in the substance abuse field in the Flint area took classes from Bailey.
“He was strong, flexible, idealistic, creative and scrupulously honest and fair,” Coffey said.
Gerald Brown, former Flint city clerk and county commissioner, has known Bailey since they worked together on political campaigns I the early 1970s.
“I am going to miss him because he was one of those few people you could always depend on doing what he said he was going to do.” Said Brown, who is now retired I the Harbor Springs area.
Another friend, Doug Drago of Flint, said Bailey was an extraordinarily intelligent man who never lorded himself over others, no matter who they were.
“If he was your friend, he was a friend for life,” he said. “He never held a grudge and he was the greatest guy most of his friends ever knew.”
Baileys wife of 26 years, Susan, said her husband always stressed to their three children that they were not to judge other people or act superior to anyone.
“He told them that they were always to address people by their names, to treat other people with respect,” she said. “He was a great dad and husband.
Besides his wife, Bailey leaves two sons, Tyler and Logan, and a daughter, Madison.
By David V. Graham | The Flint Journal
Saturday November 29, 2008