Bill Bailey Tribute
February 2, 1939 ~ July 27, 2017
And the cowboy rides away! A true legend has died. Constable Bill Bailey, voice of the Houston Rodeo and true servant of the Houston community passed away peacefully on July 27th, 2017 with family and friends at his side.
He was one of the good guys and the kind of man generations will talk about. Everyone has a favorite Bill Bailey story and that memory will always bring a smile.
Exactly when a man becomes a legend can be difficult to pinpoint. Usually, it comes after an icon's colorful career arc begins its slow descent.
Not so in the case of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's longtime announcer, Bill Bailey, most Rodeo fans and friends in the community can't remember a time when Bailey wasn't already a true Houston legend.
In 2016, Bill Bailey closed the gate on his long announcing career with the HLSR Show, where his voice has been heard, his wit has been appreciated, and his compassion and enthusiasm have been felt, for more than five decades.
It will be difficult to envision the Rodeo or this community without visualizing Bailey, microphone in hand, announcing the Grand Entry Salute. At the Calf Scramble, he will be remembered for how he encouraged scramble participants to run a little faster and how he could coax the calves into the chalk square with the patented “Bailey Bump.” Countless families have been touched by his energetic announcing at the Mutton Bustin' event that made the young athletes feel like superstars, turning seconds of excitement into memories that will last a lifetime.
Bailey always had the gift of gab. He first grabbed the microphone while attending high school in Temple, Texas, and working at a local radio station. He later found radio more appealing than college, leaving Texas Western College before graduating to pursue opportunities in Round Rock, El Paso and then out of state. His love for Texas, though, never diminished. Often he expressed his gratitude for being an American and especially being a Texan.
Bill returned to Texas in 1960. Born Milton Odom Stanley, he applied to fill a position for a DJ that had been promoted using the song, “Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?” Bailey agreed to assume the “Bill Bailey” moniker, and the name stuck. Later, working at KIKK-FM, Bailey became prominent in the country music scene, not only on the Houston and Pasadena, Texas, airwaves, but nationwide. Bailey was named by Billboard magazine as the Country Radio Program Director of the Year in 1970 and was honored by the Country Music Association in 1979 as the Large Market Disc Jockey of the Year. He was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2010.
In the early 1980s, at what might have appeared as the zenith of his broadcast career, Bailey did what any self-respecting disc jockey would do, he went from Buffalo Bill Bailey to begin a career in law enforcement as Constable Bill Bailey. Bailey put his hat in the ring for the position of Constable with Harris County Precinct 8. After winning a run-off election, Bailey made a real impact by implementing innovative programs focused on improving the community- the 8 communities in his precinct. His presence and support of the Johnson Space Center and the astronauts and their families was vital to the Clear Lake community. Precinct 8 is the only police agency in the nation with a NASA designed patch “Astronaut Support” for deputies and vehicles. He received the NASA Medal for Outstanding Public Service, NASA's highest Civilian Award. The NASA Precinct 8 association continues on today. Bailey's support from the public kept him in the Constable's position from 1982 until his seventh term in 2011.
After retirement, Bill Bailey stayed active in a multitude of activities, including his involvement as communications director for Rosewood Funeral Home. Bailey, incidentally, had long roots in the funeral business, having been an ambulance driver for the Howard family's funeral home when he was in his twenties. At that time, he considered it a great job. “I got to drive fast and blow the sirens.” Perhaps that experience helped shape Bailey into the man of great compassion. He compared the funeral business to a ministry providing comfort to families working through difficult times, and he, himself, took comfort in that role. Bailey also continued his service on the board of directors and a member of the senior loan committee for Pasadena-based Texas Citizens Bank where his business sense and sharp assessment was highly valued. And he also provided troubleshooting assistance and security advice to Harris County Precinct Two Commissioner Jack Morman.
Bill Bailey was an impact participant and served as President of both the Texas Constables & Justice of the Peace Association of Texas and the Texas Association of Counties. Again his determination to improve the organizations made lasting changes and improved the departments in County government. His statewide and local affiliations are too numerous to list. There was not an organization that Bill did not touch. His Commitment to local groups like the area Chambers of Commerce, Pasadena Rotary, the Salvation Army, the YMCA, the Pasadena Livestock Show and Rodeo, local school district education foundations, and the San Jacinto College foundation are just but a few. His Energy and enthusiasm for doing good is unrivaled in our times. Everywhere you look, there is a piece of Bill Bailey. He didn't just join, he participated with energy and devotion. He gave with his heart, and he had a big Texas size heart.
He was a faithful member of South Main Baptist Church in Pasadena where he served as a adult Sunday School teacher and on the Sunday morning offering team. He was a 32nd degree Mason with memberships in the Jaques DeMolay Lodge No. 1390, Pasadena Lodge No 1155, Scottish Rite 32 degree & K.C.C.H., York Rite, Arabia Temple Shrine, and DeMolay L.O.H.
He was the kind of man who was just as comfortable in his backyard with his dogs, horses, mules, & chickens as he was in million dollar fund raisers with icons and country stars and politicians. He did not back away from what he thought was right, and he defended his beliefs in a conscientious and powerful way. He cared deeply about his friends, his country, his beloved Texas and his family. He made each of us a better person.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Verna and Floyd Stanley, his brother Bobby and his beloved son Milton.
He is survived by his wife and soul mate of 40 ½ years Janis Bailey. Bill is also survived by his daughter Rae Sinor and her husband Keith, daughter Sharon Escareno and her husband Jaime, daughter Linda Taylor and daughter in law Amber Stanley. Bill is further survived by grandchildren, Amy Sanders, Lauren Bennett and husband Ken, Michael and John Sinor, Taylor and Michael Stanley, Jamie and Jessica Escareno and Eric Taylor and great grandchildren, Katelyn McKenzie, Kelsey Sanders, and Trey and Noah Bennett. Left also to grieve are his sweet sister Annette Parker, sister in law Doris Stanley, sister in law Adrienne Armstrong and husband Warren, many nieces and nephews, so many dear friends and family too numerous to count.
We've lost a giant of a man. A true friend to all. May his spirit continue in each of us to be more than we ever thought we could be and to use our God-given talents in the benefit of so many.