William F. "Bill" Bailey, 93, longtime Ellensburg resident, passed away at his home Saturday, April 24, 2021. A private celebration of Bill’s life will be held by the family.
Bill was born on December 3, 1927 in Giltner, Nebraska to Pete and Sadie (O’Brien) Bailey. Bill was born 12 minutes earlier than his twin sister Betty. Bill grew up between Nebraska and Kentucky, during the Dust Bowl era, before the family moved to Cle Elum in 1941. He attended school in Cle Elum before moving to Fairbanks, Alaska to work for the Fairbanks Exploration Company in the gold mines.
Bill enlisted in the United States Navy in December of 1947 and proudly served on the USS Pasadena and the USS Toledo as a Gunner’s Mate. He was honorably discharged in 1951 and returned home to Cle Elum.
Upon his return home from the Navy, Bill went to work for Hidden Valley Guest Ranch. As a Jack of all trades on the ranch, he was known for his impeccable handyman and horseshoeing skills. He also guided guests on trail rides, played guitar around the evening campfires and even participated in the rodeos that the ranch put on for guests. It was there that he met Rae Rutherford, a guest at the ranch who was visiting from Vancouver, Canada. Bill and Rae married on October 11, 1958 and were blessed with two children, James and Linda.
In 1964, Bill was hired by the City of Ellensburg as a heavy equipment operator for the parks department and spent the rest of his career with the city, retiring in 1989.
Bill’s hobbies included hunting, fishing and target shooting, all of which he enjoyed with his children, grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. He was a skilled woodcarver and made many beautiful sculptures of eagles, ducks and various other birds and wildlife. Besides his immediate family, "Uncle Bill" loved to share his skills, his stories and his time with his nieces, nephews and anyone else that came to visit.
Bill is survived by his wife, Rae, at the family home in Ellensburg; son James (Tammy) Bailey of Yakima and Linda (Fred) Bailey-Keaton of Ellensburg; grandchildren Michael Bailey of Ellensburg, Sandra (Juan) Munguia and Trevor Bailey, all of Yakima; Sarah Bailey and Amy Bailey, both of Spokane as well as 3 great-grandchildren Adonis, Lucian and Kasima Munguia. Bill was preceded in death four weeks earlier by his twin sister, Betty Jensen, on March 27, 2021 and by his younger brother Claude on April 15, 1984.
Memorial contributions in Bill’s honor are suggested to Hospice Friends, 302 E. Second Avenue, Ellensburg, WA 98926.
Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory has been entrusted with caring for Bill’s family. Online condolences may be left at www.johnston-williams.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William "Bill" F. Bailey, please visit our floral store.