Herschel Killebrew Bailey III, Ed.D, of Knoxville and formerly Cleveland, Tenn., passed away peacefully the evening of Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at NHC Place in Farragut.
Herschel, or “Dr. Bailey” as he was known at the Webb School of Knoxville, was born Oct. 4, 1941, in Opelika, Ala., to Jessie Lee Wallace Bailey and Herschel Killebrew Bailey Jr. Around the age of two his family moved to Oak Ridge, Tenn., where Dr. Bailey’s father started working with the U.S. Dept. of Energy at the Y-12 National Security Complex, part of the Manhattan Project.
Herschel attended Oak Ridge High School where he was an academic and athletic standout. He was a part of the legendary 1958 ORHS track team that won an unprecedented third consecutive state title when the meet was held in Knoxville. Herschel was a sprinter and part of the 440-yard relay team that set the state record at that meet. He also was on the 880-yard relay team and, again, set a state record at that meet. Not one to rest, he then ran with the mile relay team that also won the state title. That same team set the record for the mile relay the year before. His track talent earned him a scholarship to the University of Tennessee where he was a sprinter for the Volunteers.
He graduated in 1964 with a B.S. in Education and would follow that with a Master of Science in Teaching from Middle Tennessee State University. He moved to Cleveland, Tenn., to be a science teacher at Cleveland Day School, and where he also would become a state-championship-winning varsity boys soccer coach and the headmaster of the school. A move back to Knoxville in 1975, along with his wife Sarah Smith Bailey (formerly Sarah Walls) and their blended family, saw him start work on his doctorate at the University of Tennessee. In 1977 he became Dean of the Upper School at Webb School of Knoxville.
Herschel loved teaching younger students more than anything, so in the early 1990’s, after 13 years as dean, he moved to the middle school at Webb where he taught science for the next 15 years. He would retire from teaching in 2005 to spend more time fishing on Ft. Loudon Lake and getting in frequent visits with his wife, Sarah, to a variety of Florida beaches. After a few years of retirement, he focused all of his care and attention on Sarah who was then in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She passed away on August 19, 2013. This obituary cannot leave out Bubba the cat who lived an astonishing 20 years. He was beloved by both Herschel and Sarah, and he was by Herschel’s side when he got to NHC Place in 2019. Bubba passed away the morning of July 1, 2020. Herschel is survived by his daughter, Kimberly Bailey, of Atlanta, Ga.; his son, Killebrew Bailey IV and his wife Sheri, and their son Easton, of Norcross, Ga.; and by his brother, Larry Bailey, of Oak Ridge, Tenn. He is also survived by his stepdaughter, Sarah Elizabeth Malinak and her husband Joseph of Asheville, N.C.; by his stepson, C. Lee Walls Jr. and his wife Jeanne, of Mountain Brook, Ala.; and their daughters Courtney Walls of Mountain Brook, Ala., and Jessica Walls Hawks and her husband Ryan of Homewood, Ala. In his birth state of Alabama and the town of Opelika and the surrounding area, Herschel leaves behind his first cousin Evelyn Johnson Senn and her husband Cary. He was preceded in death by his first cousin Boalman “Bubba” Johnson Jr. (Leilawil “Lei”).
There will be no public service. It was Herschel’s wish that donations in his memory be made to his church, First Farragut United Methodist Church (ffumc.org/give), 12733 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37934.