“It was a lot of fun,” he said, describing how he climbed the hills with his friends, or visited his grandmother and collected the comic books that the bookstore had thrown out after ripping their front covers off. “I’d grab a whole pile.”
Bailey was born in Moab. His father’s family originally homesteaded in Monticello during the early 1900s but found life in Monticello to be too hard, so they moved to Moab. His mother’s family helped settle Moab.
Bailey’s family moved to California when he was a year old, but they returned to the area by the time he was in the first grade. Aside from attending college in Salt Lake City, Bailey has called Moab his home ever since.
As a teenager, Bailey was never bored. His mother worked for the state employment service in town, so from the time he was 14, Bailey said he always had work lined up for him.
“I did some of the worst jobs here,” he said. “I could never tell her that I didn’t have a job.”
After graduating high school, Bailey moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah, where he worked toward a degree in behavioral psychology. His wife Carrie went with him.
“We were childhood sweethearts,” he said.
The couple moved back to Moab full-time in 1971.
“After spending time in college and coming back here all the time, we preferred Moab to any other place,” Bailey said. Bailey worked a variety of jobs over the following years. He did a brief stint as a teacher, as well as spending several years as a purchasing agent for Atlas Minerals.
“I worked there until the uranium industry went flat in 1983,” he said.
Though there was good money in the mining industry, it was always up and down, he said.
“You never knew when it was going to collapse,” he said.
He said the tourist industry has proved to be a more stable economy for the area.
After the uranium bust, Bailey and current Moab Mayor David Sakrison started a video rental store.
“We liked movies,” he said. “When we visited our friends we’d watch videos.”
VHS tapes were just beginning to break into the market, so Bailey decided to take advantage of the new technology. Unfortunately, not many people in Moab had VCRs at the time.
“I ended up selling more VCRs and TVs than anything,” he said.
Bailey kept the store for about 10 years. Then he and Carrie bought some apartment buildings and went into the lodging business, an enterprise they continued for the next 20 years.
Bailey has also been actively involved in the city government for more than 25 years.
“I’ve always been interested in the future of the town,” he said.
He first threw his hat into the political ring when he ran for mayor against former Moab Mayor Tom Stocks. Although Bailey was not elected, Stocks encouraged him to take an open seat on the Moab City Planning Commission.
“We didn’t always see eye-to-eye,” Bailey said. “On planning issues and the future of Moab, we were in complete harmony, and that was our common bond.”
Bailey is now semi-retired, however, he and Carrie have found new ways to remain busy. They have taken up a new hobby – beekeeping. They are also enjoying spending time with their grandchildren.