March 5, 1925 - May 9, 2018
John Amos “Jack” Bailey passed from this world to the next on May 9, 2018, with family around him, at the Powell Valley Care Center in Powell, Wyo. Mourning his passing are his wife Clara; daughter Desiray Bailey, grandson John Fitzgibbons (Erin) and great grandson Olin, and grandson Ryan Fitzgibbons; daughter Deion Hagemeister (Michael), grandson Timothy Hagemeister, and granddaughter Danae Ancesco, and great-granddaughters Anastasia, Isabella, and Violetta. He is also survived by two younger sisters, Nellie Griffith and Jennie Lubbers. He was preceded in death by his parents, Edward J. and Merle (Wheeler) Bailey, and older siblings Edward Bailey, Jr., James Bailey, and Ellen Bartling.
Jack was born March 25, 1925, at Winner, S.D., and grew up on the Westonco Ranch located in the northeast corner of Gregory County, S.D., next to the Missouri River. Jack’s first two years of high school were at Burke, S.D., and his second two years were at the South Dakota School of Agriculture in Brookings, S.D.
After graduation, Jack enlisted and began active duty in the Army Air Corps on Aug. 12, 1943. He served thirty-three months, with one year in the China-Burma-India theater as a radio operator on C-47 and C-46 cargo planes. Jack was honorably discharged on May 14, 1946, and joined the army reserve at that time.
In early 1947, Jack met the love of his life at a dance, Clara M. Thietje, daughter of Nicolous and Johanna Thietje. Jack and Clara were married on Christmas Day, 1947, and from this union daughters Desiray and Deion were born. Jack and Clara celebrated their 70th anniversary Dec. 25, 2017.
When the Korean Conflict broke out, Jack went back into active duty in August of 1950. He again served as a radio operator, and completed thirty-four missions in B-29 bombers. He was honorably discharged in August of 1951.
After his tour of duty over Korea, Jack worked nine years for his brother Jim in construction of dams and roads. Then in February of 1960, Jack moved his family to Gordon, Neb., and started his own business building field terraces, dams, roads, airstrips, and home sites. Jack and Clara also built and ran a storage business for twenty years. They made Gordon their home for fifty years.
During that time, Jack was an active member of the community. He was a member of the American Legion for 63 years, and for an interval served as Sergeant of Arms, helping with many military funerals. Jack was a lay leader in various churches in the area and a member of Toastmaster Club for 25 years. In 1975, Jack became an advisor to the Western Nebraska Technical College Equipment School in Sidney, Neb., and served for seventeen years. Jack also had a position with the Nebraska State University in 1986-87 conducting seminars on road maintenance. He spent eleven years overseeing the reconstruction of a 105-year-old Methodist church into a museum, located in Gordon, Neb. He also served in the Gordon Chamber of Commerce.
Jack enjoyed hunting deer and pheasant, square dancing with Clara, and later dancing at senior dances. After retirement, Jack and Clara raised a pair of colts, training them both as a buggy team and as saddle horses. They found old buggies to refurbish and participated in many city parades over the years. In 1995, Jack and Clara were recognized as “Family of the Year” in Gordon, Neb. It was a honor they have always cherished because Gordon was home and filled with friends.
In his mid-to-late seventies, Jack learned how to use a computer and wrote a book containing his memoirs. It was self-published as In My Mind’s Eye: The First 82 Years. The whole family appreciates the rich history it contains.
In 2010, Jack and Clara moved from Gordon to Cody, Wyo., to be closer to Deion’s family. Where ever Jack went, he had a warm and easy way with people, and loved telling jokes. He was a man with integrity, and was dedicated to his family, his community and his country. He will be greatly missed, and never forgotten.
Services will be held at a later date in Winner, S.D. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his memory to the charity of your choice.