Saturday, December 4, 2021

Obituary - Mercer Guy Bailey

Mercer G. Bailey, a journalist with The Associated Press for 47 years who helped develop the careers of many AP staffers and witnessed the movement of news from Morse Code and Teletype printers to the satellite and internet, died Nov. 20, 2021, at the age of 94.

He died at Belton (Mo.) Regional Medical Center from complications of COVID-19, his family said.

He is survived by his wife Rosalee Ann Walker Bailey, whom he married in 1992; daughters Marcia Jeanne Bailey of Fairway, Kan., and Lynn Bailey Kruse (Kevin) of Overland Park, Kan.; grandchildren Alison Jeanne Kruse of Manhattan, N.Y., and Austin Joseph Kruse of Overland Park, Kan.; and stepchildren Steve Walker of Kansas City Mo., Leanne Barry (Jim) of Lake Winnebago, Mo., Mary Walker of Raymore, Mo.; grandchildren Jason Nickles, Kansas City, Mo., Lauren Walker and Katie Walker, both of Raymore, Mo.; niece, Sandy Parker, Manor, Texas, and nephew, Randy Staton, Atlanta, Ga.

Bailey was preceded in death by his first wife Jeanne Hand Bailey, who died in 1987; his father Guy Hunter Bailey and mother Frances Corrine Bailey; sister Dorothy (Dot) Bailey Staton; brother John Wesley Bailey, and stepson David Walker.

Mercer Guy Bailey was born Nov. 29, 1926, in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was 17 years old when he joined The Associated Press in its Atlanta bureau in May of 1943 and also worked in Mobile, Ala. After service with the U.S. Army in post-war Japan in 1945-47, he returned to AP as news editor in Montgomery, Ala., where in covering politics, he met a freshman state legislator named George Wallace.

He returned to Atlanta in 1948 and over the ensuing years was a regional sports writer, covering major events across the South including the Masters, college football bowl games and interviewing such figures as Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer and Bear Bryant. It was while on assignment in Miami that Bailey met Jeanne Hand who he married in 1957.

He was promoted to the General Desk at AP Headquarters in New York City in 1963 and among top editors he worked with at 50 Rockefeller Plaza was Louis D. Boccardi, who later became president and chief executive of the AP, the world's largest and oldest news organization. Today, it delivers news to more than 15,000 news outlets around the globe.

At the time of Bailey's retirement, Boccardi said, "Mercer symbolizes some of the AP's finest traditions, a tough, demanding news instinct, unquenchable enthusiasm for his work, high standards and an affection bordering on love for AP and its place in the news stream."

Bailey worked in New York for five years before his appointment in 1968 as St. Louis correspondent. He was promoted in 1970 to assistant chief of bureau in Kansas City, helping oversee AP news operations in Kansas and Missouri, and served in that position until his retirement in 1990.

His dedication was exemplified in 1981 when the skywalks at the Hyatt Hotel in Kansas City collapsed, killing and injuring more than 200 people, Bailey was hospitalized at the time for treatment of a painful arthritic condition but he climbed out of bed and hurried to the emergency room to interview survivors.

"What amazes me about Mercer is how he started in an era of Morse Code and Teletypes and yet stayed in the vanguard of all the technological advances that have made the AP what it is today - the world's news leader," said Paul Stevens, who was Kansas City chief of bureau during the last six years of Bailey's career. "He loved the AP, was highly protective of keeping the news report unbiased and strong, and advanced the careers of many, including mine."

Bailey was described by his daughters as a Southern gentleman, incredibly smart, witty, kind, a perfectionist, loving, genuine and patient. He loved his “honeys” (as he would always call us) - Jeanne, Marcia, Lynn and Rosie.

In retirement, Bailey and his wife Rosie enjoyed the lake life with their children and grandchildren from their combined families at Lake Winnebago, Mo. He loved fishing, especially in the early mornings. When the grandchildren were younger he got the biggest kick out of pulling them behind the boat on inner tubes and hearing their laughter. They loved going to all the grandchildren’s sporting events, concerts, plays and other activities. He and Rosie enjoyed traveling. Their big trip was to Australia and they also enjoyed going to Rosie’s family cabin near Fraser, Colorado. They spent several winters in the warmer climates of Marco Island, Tucson, and Corpus Christi. Bailey could spend hours tinkering at his workbench and even took up the hobby of stained glass. He was an avid sports fan and especially enjoyed watching college and pro football. He had the KC Star delivered to his doorstep every day and would start his day with his coffee, reading the paper from front to back, and doing the crossword puzzle which he was always able to complete.

In lieu of flowers the family would suggest a memorial donation to the Beta Sigma Phi American flag project. Money donated will help purchase a large American flag that will be placed at the Yacht Club at Lake Winnebago. Please make checks payable to Beta Sigma Phi and mail to Carolyn Alm, 213 Tuscarora Lane, Lake Winnebago, MO 64034.

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