Obituary of William Joseph Bailey
Bill Bailey (February 15, 1929 – February 22, 2023)
William Joseph “Blll” Bailey passed away peacefully on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 in his home in Chantilly, Virginia, surrounded by family. He lived 94 wonderful years. With his passing, Bill will joyfully reunite with the love of his life, Donna Eggerling Bailey, who passed away in 2016. He will be dearly missed by his five children, their spouses, fifteen grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
Bill was the fourth of 11 children born to Edward Bradley Bailey & Joan Mulvihill Bailey in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Upon graduating from LaSalle High School in 1946, 17-year old Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he proudly served as a paratrooper in the Airborne Jump Group. At just 18, while serving in Japan, he became Mess Sergeant for over 200 servicemen – an assignment that would foretell his future career. After two years of service, Bill enrolled in Cornell University’s heralded School of Hotel Administration. His studies were interrupted when the Army recalled him into service for another two-year stint. Upon his honorable discharge in 1952, Bill returned to school at Cornell, where he studied while also running a catering business serving private parties and managing the Ithaca Country Club until his graduation in 1954.
Bill headed west with a Cornell degree and a few dollars in his pocket. His life would soon change. After working in Carmel and Palm Springs, California, he opened a restaurant and bar in San Francisco’s financial district. It was there in 1956 that the beautiful Donna Eggerling – a South Dakota native and singer with the “Candi Sisters” - would enter Bill’s bar, and win his heart forever. The couple married that same year. From the moment he met Donna, he was smitten; his love for her would last his entire life.
In 1960, Bill joined Host, Inc., training as a manager in several departments, including inflight food services. Host sent him to LAX Airport where he served as Operations Manager for the company’s food operations, then on to Seattle serving a similar function at the airport there. In Seattle, he was approached by Bill Marriott, Sr., to join the Marriott Corporation. After stints in Los Angeles, Washington, and Chicago, Bill was asked to work in Marriott’s corporate headquarters, where he soon ran operations for industry-leader Marriott’s entire inflight food system, including the US, Europe, South America, the UK, and Cairo. He rose to the level of Senior Vice President of Marriott’s worldwide operations. Upon his retirement in 1988, his colleagues wrote of Bill: “an easy-going effective catering executive that could instill pride in each of us – whether a competitor, a dishwasher, or the General Manager of a multi-million dollar catering kitchen. He is dignity and pride in our profession.”
Bill’s life was marked by far more than a successful business career, however. He was a devout Catholic who actively participated in his local parish in each of the nineteen geographical moves he made during his life. He was a volunteer with the International Order of Alhambra dedicated to working with mentally challenged children. He was an avid golfer, and in retirement, found great joy in acting in his local theater. He enjoyed a lifelong passion for every Notre Dame sports team from football to basketball to softball and hockey. And Bill had a wonderful sense of humor. He enjoyed a good laugh, even if it was at his own expense, an opportunity his children were delighted to provide often.
Bill loved his family, and was well known as a source of advice, support, and guidance for his scores of nieces and nephews, and their families. More than all he loved his wife and the five children they raised together. Nothing demonstrated his love for Donna more than the years he spent caring for her during her battle with Alzheimer’s.
A private family service will be held at the time of Bill’s interment next to Donna at Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family request that donations in Bill’s memory be made to the Alzheimer’s Association. https://act.alz.org/site/TR/Events/Tributes-AlzheimersChampions?pg=fund&fr_id=1060&pxfid=795146