In Memoriam -- Barbara Bailey (T-09)
Sept 1, 2018
Saying Goodbye to Barbara Bailey
September 4, 2018
Our friend Barbara Bailey died this weekend, and Seattle grew suddenly
dimmer. Few things challenge our sense of mortality and purpose more than
the death of someone who seemed immortal. Barbara was such a person. Born
and raised here, she loved Seattle and poured herself into making it better.
Barbara was relentless in everything she did. Her determination was a
strength and was her most defining characteristic.
Barbara’s commitment to action made her an early pioneer for LGBTQ+ rights.
Her bookstores – B. Bailey Books and Bailey/Coy Books – were nationally
beloved independent book stores that regularly brought communities together
and hosted renowned authors. They were also safe and welcoming spaces for
the LGBTQ+ community, particularly for those just coming out and during the
height of anti-LGBTQ+ actions. In Barbara’s bookstores, there was no shame
and nothing secret or hidden – “our” books were placed prominently next to
all the New York Times best sellers. Barb warmly welcomed everyone to the
store, often loudly with a laugh, a hearty greeting or an exclamation about
the latest political outrage.
Barbara championed civil rights here in Seattle for communities of color and
for the LGBTQ+ community. From the AIDS crisis, to the fight for equal
rights, to marriage equality – Barb was on the front lines helping in any
way she could and was always leading with her energy and her heart. She
hosted countless fundraisers for organizations, candidates and causes close
to her heart. There was no job too big or too small for Barbara Bailey.
Throughout her life, Barbara was most relentless in her positive nature and
her love of friends and family. She built community, forged connections and
reveled in the accomplishments of others. Whether through walks at Cal
Anderson, gatherings at her house or the crew at Chevy – Barbara Bailey
built a large extended family. She made every individual know that they were
singularly important. We all thought we were her favorite.
She cheered on public good and fought against any injustice. Her mark on
Seattle cannot be overstated; Capitol Hill would not be Capitol Hill, were
it not for Barbara. She went to school there, lived there, built a business
there and cheered the neighborhood on like few others. No LGBTQ+ person
would have been elected to any office in this region were it not for Barbara
Bailey. She always stood by her principles, and she inspired others through
She made life so fun, for so many along the way. Her absence is so hard to
bear, and we will miss her even more than we know.
Always and forever, she will be an incredible example of a leader who
demanded equity, justice and fairness for all.
(Blog of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan)