Story and photos by Joycelyne Fadojutimi
Southward Library was the venue for the change to become official. The Longview Independent School District (LISD) board of trustees, the deputy, assistant superintendents, teachers, sundry well-wishers, and the Bailey clan were on hand to usher in the new development. South Ward Elementary is now officially Clarence W. Bailey Elementary (also known as the “Bailey School.”)
Dr. Troy Simmons Board Secretary (Place 7) spoke on behalf of LISD Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox, telling his listeners the time is ripe for this change. He knew Bailey well, had worked with him, and neither man let personal differences obstruct their objective of enriching young minds.
“Clarence and I did not get along about many things, but we agreed that all students need equal opportunity for education,” said Simmons.
Simmons is aware of how hard today’s elders fought to insure their children and grandchildren could receive quality education, and how many of today’s younger generation are not aware of this. He cited how the Brownwood Place took out papers to prevent minorities from living there. Presently, Southward is part of Ware Acres in close proximity to Brownwood Place.
He also spoke on how the LISD aimed to close Southward and send its students to other area campuses because no land was available in South Longview on which to build a new school. Furthermore, Brownwood Place announced it would not sell land to African Americans. Simmons and Bailey teamed up to find land on which to build a school on the south side. At the dedication, Simmons took care to point this out.
“Without Clarence this school would not be here. He lived to be eighty-seven. He built his life on honesty, integrity, trust and love for his community,” said Simmons. “I am glad to be here. He had a good heart, and he touched a lot of people.”
His daughter, Shirley Bailey Smith, spoke tenderly of her beloved father, and thanked the audience for coming together in his honor. His was a long career that saw much positive accomplishment.
He was born September 25, 1933, to Brownwood Place both of Longview. Clarence graduated from Mary C. Womack High School in 1950, and later pulled down a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and biology from Wiley College in Marshall. He then moved on to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa to take his master’s degree in psychology and counseling.
Insurance was his first career as he opened Bailey’s Insurance Agency in 1967, qualifying for the Million-Dollar Round Table, National Quality Award, Texas Leaders Round Table, and National Sales Achievement Award. He also earned lifetime status via the National Western Life’s President’s Council Award, which resulted in his wife and daughter making repeated international trips to such exotic locales as Hawaii, Barbados, West Indies, Austria, Switzerland, Morocco, Russia, England, and various American resorts. He commenced a serious career in education in 1977, being elected to Place 6 on the LISD Board of Trustees, where he served twenty-one years. He branched out in many directions in his determination to serve his community.
He spent seven years as a teacher-coach in the LISD, worked as a playground director in Des Moines, was an Academic and Tactical Instructor for the U.S. Air Force, and found time to serve as the LISD Board of Trustees president. He has worked with the Longview Chamber of Commerce, Longview High School, East Texas Area Boy Scouts, the Longview NAACP, for Wiley College, and various local boards, organizations, and associations.
In addition to all his other posts and responsibilities, Clarence Bailey was an ordained minister, working as associate pastor of Longview’s Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Before his dear wife of sixty-four years Mavis, passed away they gave their daughter Sherry away as wife to Reverend Johnny Smith.