Saint Martin’s University grieves the loss of exceptional Professor Leslie G. Bailey, Ph.D.

January 7, 2011

Les BaileyLacey, Washington – Esteemed friend, colleague and English Professor Leslie G. “Les” Bailey, Ph.D., died Dec. 24, 2010, at Providence-St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Wash., from complications of cancer. He was 68.

An endowment to benefit the University’s Department of English is being established in Bailey’s name. Memorial gifts can be sent to the Les Bailey Endowment at the Saint Martin’s University Office of Development, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey, WA 98503.

“Les was beloved by students, faculty, staff and alumni,” said Saint Martin’s University President Roy F. Heynderickx. “He will be sorely missed by our community. His service to Saint Martin’s was exemplary.”

Bailey was born Nov. 23, 1942, in Seattle. He grew up in Pasco, where he graduated in 1960 from Pasco Senior High School.

In 1964, he graduated from Saint Martin’s College with majors in English and biology, eyeing a medical career. Within months of enrolling at Nebraska’s Creighton University School of Medicine, he realized English, not medicine, was his calling. He pursued a master of arts degree in English from Baylor University in Texas, graduating 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.”

A faculty member at Saint Martin’s since 1975, Bailey was a gifted and inspiring educator whose greatest pleasure was in finding students who wanted to learn.

Bailey shared his passion for the written word with generations of students for 35 years. 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.

Bailey’s 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 studies 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, Bailey held several administrative posts, including chair of the Department of English, dean of Humanities and director of summer session. He had 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, including Sigma Mu Kappa Service Fraternity.

Bailey 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 the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and is the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its five extension campuses located at Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base, Olympic College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.