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Elizabeth Brown Bailey

Elizabeth Brown Bailey (née Elizabeth Marya Brown) died peacefully at Carolina Meadows in Chapel Hill, NC, on Sunday, February 15th, 2015. Born to Irving Brown, a professor and scholar, and Mary Sullivan Brown, an actress and teacher of acting, on January 23, 1921, Betty traveled in Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia as a child, living in rented quarters while her father traveled and wrote about Gypsies. She was married in 1943 and is the mother of four children. Her loving husband of 68 years, Herbert S. Bailey, Jr., died in 2011.

Betty met Herb when they were students at the Horace Mann School in New York City. By the time they entered college, they knew they would be married. Betty attended Smith College on a full scholarship and graduated with honors. Herb attended Princeton, then joined the Navy as the US entered World War II. They were married on June 26, 1943 and lived together for a year while Herb taught at the Navy Radar School, then they were separated for 8 months while he was deployed in the Pacific. In 1945 the first of their four children, John, was born. Shortly afterward they moved to Princeton, NJ, where Herb became Science Editor, then Director, at Princeton University Press. Their children Jim (1948), Robin (1950), and George (1953) were born in Princeton, where the family lived as the children grew up. Herb and Betty moved to North Carolina when Herb retired in 1986. They lived first at Fearrington Village, then at Carolina Meadows for their remaining 15 years, finding many friends and participating actively in the social life of both communities.

Betty would be the first to say that her most important accomplishment in life was to love and nurture her four children, her six grandchildren, and her five great grandchildren, but to leave it at this would be to ignore the greater part of a hugely meaningful and productive life. Her professional career found its direction early in her married life when she joined a small group of parents in founding a cooperative nursery school. Later, when her own children were older, she completed coursework and became certified as a nursery school teacher, teaching first at the nursery school (“pre-school” in today’s terminology) for children of fellows at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies, then at a nursery school run by the Episcopal Church of Princeton. She augmented her role as a teacher by serving on boards of other pre-schools and organizations benefiting children, both in Princeton and later in the Chapel Hill area.

In 1980, Betty began another career by becoming Assistant to the Recording Secretary at Princeton University, a job in which she worked closely with development staff. She had prepared for her new role with years of hosting Board Members and guests of Princeton University Press. It didn’t take long for Princeton’s development department to notice her skills as an organizer and her remarkable ability to connect with people of all cultures and backgrounds—perhaps a result of her years of global traveling as a child. She was quickly promoted to Assistant Director of Campaign Relations for Princeton University, and continued in this role until her move to Chapel Hill.

Family was a huge part of Betty’s life and she was truly the center of her family’s collective life. Family in her eyes included not only her children and their children but their partners, their partners’ families, and all her extended family. Summers in Maine were the heart of this family life, capped off every summer by the “Captain’s Dinner”. Herb was the Captain, of course, but it was Betty who made it all happen.

A memorial service for Betty will be held at Carolina Meadows on March 14 at 2:00 PM.

In lieu of flowers her children invite you to make a donation to the Carolina Meadows Employee Appreciation Fund at: Carolina Business Office/100 Carolina Meadows/Chapel Hill NC 27517.