Les Bailey

Leslie G. Bailey Endowment

Shortly after Les’ death, The Leslie G. Bailey Endowment to benefit the Saint Martin’s University Department of English was established by a group of Les’ close friends and colleagues, with the assistance of the university’s advancement office.

Funds raised early on for the endowment already are being used in support of the Les Bailey’s Tennyson Award, a financial award given to an English major for an outstanding English paper. The selection of the recipient is determined by members of the Saint Martin’s English faculty and presented during the school’s annual Honor’s Convocation in late April.

At some point in the future, a small financial award in the name of the Les Bailey Scholarship will be given annually to a deserving English major who meets the university’s Office of Financial Aid criteria.

In the latter half of 2013, the initial amount of funds required to fully meet endowment status were raised, providing the go-ahead for the third part of Les’ endowment. Meeting this milestone allows for the planning and development of the inaugural Les Bailey Writers Series event to begin in earnest, projected to take place on the university campus in the fall of 2014. The intention of this annual event is to bring writers and authors of note to campus to read and discuss their books, a practice that was an especially meaningful part of Les’ teaching philosophy. The event will be open and free of charge to Saint Martin’s students and community, as well as promoted to the broader Olympia-area community.


For more information on the series, please contact Olivia Archibald.

Leslie G. Bailey, Ph.D.

Department overviewEnglish (M., m.)Writing (m.) Les Bailey Writers Series Sigma Tau Delta

The son of Joseph George and Gertrude Marie “Trudy” Raupp Bailey, Leslie George “Les” Bailey was born Nov. 23, 1942, in Seattle. His family moved to Pasco in 1948. A 1960 graduate from Pasco Senior High School, he enjoyed Thespians, tennis, outdoor activities and water-skiing on the nearby Columbia and Snake rivers.

He graduated from Saint Martin’s College in 1964, where he majored in English and biology with a minor in chemistry, eyeing a medical career. Within months of enrolling at Nebraska’s Creighton University School of Medicine, he realized a career in English, not medicine, was his calling. He obtained a Master of Arts degree in English from Baylor University in Texas in 1966. His doctorate in English was completed in 1975 at Indiana University, where he also was an instructor and review editor for the journal, “Victorian Studies.”

In 1975, Les returned to teach at Saint Martin’s, where he shared his passion for the written word with generations of students.

While his legendary strictness and lofty standards terrified the uninitiated, his students soon discovered the deep compassion, gentleness and puckish sense of humor that were hallmarks of his personality. Numerous students became guests at his famed gourmet meals. Many became lifelong friends. Despite his debilitating illness, he continued teaching until his death. He was a gifted and inspiring educator whose greatest pleasure was in finding students who wanted to learn.

Les’ passion for English fiction and poetry and for the Victorian era was life-long. As a graduate student, he centered his research on the works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Britain’s most famous poet laureate. His extensive research on Tennyson took him back to Great Britain several times. He also spent a semester in Shanghai, where he taught English to Chinese students at one of Saint Martin’s University’s sister schools.

At Saint Martin’s, Les served in several administrative posts, including chair of the Department of English, dean of Humanities and director of summer session. He served on the university’s faculty senate, 2007-08 presidential search committee and many other committees. He also was a member of the university’s honorary, The Society of Fellows, and advised student organizations, most notably Sigma Mu Kappa service fraternity.

Les was a lifetime member of The Tennyson Society, The Trollope Society and The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals. Of his many honors, he was tapped in 2002 for Saint Martin’s University’s “Distinguished Alumni Award.”

Les died Dec. 24, 2010, at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Wash., from complications of cancer. He was 68.

College of Arts and Sciences