DeLois Bailey: Remembered,
celebrated and missed
GRIEVING COMMUNITY Pallbearers carry the casket of 53-year-old DeLois Bailey out of the Highland Baptist Church Saturday morning as her family leaves the sanctuary. Bailey was critically injured at the Lockheed Martin plant on July 8, and died one week later at a local hospital. Photo by Kyle Carter / The Meridian Star.
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 20, 2003
DeLois Bailey was laid to rest Saturday at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Meridian.
About 400 people were at her funeral. Valerie Hudnall, 23, of Daleville, was one of the first to find a seat in the balcony of Highland Baptist Church before the ceremony began.
Like the rest of the community, Hudnall was shocked and heartbroken when she heard what happened at Lockheed Martin nearly two weeks ago.
Bailey died on Tuesday, one week after being shot by co-worker Doug Williams, who went on a shooting rampage at Lockheed Martin. Before taking his own life, Williams also shot and killed employees Sam Cockrell, Mickey Fitzgerald, Lynette McCall, Charlie Miller and Thomas Willis.
After the seats were filled in the church, the congregation sang, "We'll Understand It Better By And By," a hymn that was sung at Sam Cockrell's funeral on Monday.
Somber skies and howling tempest oft succeed a bright sunshine.
In that land of perfect day, when the mists have rolled away,
We will understand it better by and by."
Remembering her life
DeLois Bailey, 53, of Bailey, was born DeLois Alesha Darden. After graduating from Middleton Attendance Center in 1969, she went to work at Lockheed Martin. She was a member of A. Phillip Randolph Union, and was vice president of Local Lodge 2386 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
Oscar Coleman had been friends with Bailey since childhood. He paid tribute to her as a fellow church member. As a young girl, she joined St. Matthew United Methodist Church. As an adult, she played piano at many other churches and attended St. Joseph Catholic Church before becoming a member of Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist Church where Coleman is an elder.
One of Bailey's co-workers, Ida Delk, said her friend was always religious, but that she displayed a true hunger for God during the past few months.
Delk and Bailey began work together at the plant on the same day in 1969.
Delk brought smiles and laughter to those gathered at the funeral when she talked about Bailey's usual breakfast of oatmeal.
Delk said her friends Bailey and Lynette McCall, one of the others killed in the shooting, went shopping a few months ago after Bailey left a message on Delk's answering machine.
Delk turned to Bailey's white casket covered with flowers.
All the ways that God would lead us to that blessed Promised Land.
But He guides us with His eye And we'll follow till we die.
For We'll understand it better by and by."
Understanding her legacy
Fathers Elvin Sunds and Matthew Simmons of St. Patrick Catholic Church read scripture during the service. The Rev. Odell Hopkins, pastor of West Mt. Miriah Baptist Church offered a prayer of healing and the Rev. Carl White, pastor of Highland Baptist Church, offered a prayer of reconciliation.
The Rev. Michael Holland, pastor of Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist Church, delivered the eulogy. He called Bailey a loving, kind, compassionate person who cared more about others than herself.
He told Bailey's family and friends that they should move on to a better place in their minds, another dimension, just as Bailey has moved on spiritually.
He said staying in the past will make us victims of the past.
when the saints of God are gathered home,
We will tell the story how we've overcome;
For we'll understand it better by and by."