Dr. Jan Tillery Bailey, wife of former UMKC Chancellor Guy Bailey, died Sunday, Sept. 1, in Birmingham, Alabama, in the presence of her family. Dr. Tillery Bailey had been ill for some time.
Jan Tillery was born in Slaton, Texas, on July 7, 1950, to parents who were both teachers and who instilled in her a love and appreciation for education. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University, a master’s degree from Texas A&M, and a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University.
Tillery and Bailey met at Texas A&M, where both were linguistics professors. Tillery was an accomplished researcher, conducting field interviews for a National Geographic Society survey of Texas dialects, and with her husband co-authoring such articles as “Yall in Oklahoma,” “The Nationalization of a Southernism” and “Methodology of a Survey of Oklahoma Dialects,” for various scholarly journals. One study appeared on the front page of the New York Times.
Guy Bailey came to UMKC as Chancellor in January, 2006. While here, Tillery Bailey was a professor of English in the College of Arts & Sciences, teaching classes on occasion and attending student events. The Baileys lived in the Chancellor’s residence on the UMKC campus. Chancellor Leo Morton, a member of the UMKC Board of Trustees during that time, remembered Tillery Bailey as a friendly, gracious woman.
“Jan Bailey always had a smile on her face and a warm welcome for everyone. Despite her illness, she made it a point to meet faculty, students and community members. And she and Guy taught linguistics classes that were so popular they had students lining up at the door.”
Guy Bailey announced his departure from UMKC before the fall semester in 2008, to accept the presidency of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. In July of 2012, Bailey was named president of the University of Alabama, his alma mater. He resigned a short time later because of his wife’s health.
The UMKC community extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Jan Tillery Bailey. Her services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, September 9, in the Hance Chapel on the Texas Tech University campus.