Mary Margaret Binford Bailey

BaileyMary Margaret Binford Bailey, 95, on May 7, 2016, at Foulkeways in Gwynedd, Pa., peacefully, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. Mary Margaret was born on February 9, 1920, in Greensboro, N.C., to Helen and Raymond Binford. She attended Westtown School, graduated from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and earned a master’s degree from City University of New York. Winning the North Carolina State Women’s Tennis Championship in 1938, she believed in the importance of physical activity and taught modern dance at Erskine College and physical education at Westtown School and at the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in New York. In 1944, she married Charles Lloyd Bailey.

She promoted in her family, the community, and the world at large the Quaker values of peace, tolerance, openness, and respect for every individual. A leader in Scarsdale (N.Y.) Meeting, New York Yearly Meeting, and Friends General Conference, she served as clerk of Scarsdale Meeting, the Quaker United Nations Office, and the board of Pendle Hill study center in Wallingford, Pa. With her husband, she helped coordinate the American Friends Service Committee Conference for Diplomats in Lausanne, Switzerland, in the 1950s. They both spent a year in Korea working to strengthen the Friends community there, followed by a year of traveling the United States discussing the role of Quakerism in international affairs.

Mary Margaret loved art, music, and sports. Following her stay in Korea, she became an accomplished Korean brush painter. Her home was full of music, including classical music and Broadway musicals. She was proud that she had won a radio call-in contest by identifying Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” just from the first chord. To afford music lessons for her four children, for several years she went door to door in Scarsdale, selling World Book Encyclopedias. Even in retirement, she became a champion Wimbledon croquet player at Foulkeways.

She relished travel. The family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, for four years in the 1950s, giving the children a rich international experience and delighting them with two ocean voyages to Europe. In addition to their year in Korea, they traveled throughout their lives, visiting all six inhabited continents. After she moved to Foulkeways, she was active in Gwynedd Meeting.

Mary Margaret was a friendly and modest yet determined person who spread joy among her friends and associates and elicited warm feelings from all who knew her. She knitted multiple sweaters and blankets for all of her descendants (and it seemed the descendants of all of her friends and relatives). Watching her children and grandchildren flourish was her greatest joy. Even toward the end of her life when she became frail and was declining in many ways, the sight of any of her children lit up her face with a radiant smile. The staff who cared for her at Foulkeways spoke warmly and affectionately of her.

Her husband, Charles Lloyd Bailey, died in 2001. She is survived by four children, David Bailey, Thomas Bailey, Deborah Bailey, and Barbara Bailey; six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, send donations in her name to Friends Committee on National Legislation, American Friends Service Committee, or other Quaker organizations.

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