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Robert Alton Bailey, Sr., of Asheville, died August 11, 2018, in Valor Hospice, at the Charles George VA Medical Center. Born March 4, 1921, on a farm, in Goodrich, Michigan, to Alton A. Bailey and Julia L. (Beardslee) Bailey. His death was two years to the day of the passing of his beloved wife, Verniece.
He attended Michigan State University, and in 1943 received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering, although he did not receive his diploma until 1944, due to the war. In 1943, Bob entered the U.S. Army, and was assigned to Patton’s Third Army, 94th Infantry, Army Corps of Engineers. As a result of his ROTC training at MSU, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, combat engineer. In 1943, on a blind date, Bob met Verniece Cecilia Giroux, his “Little French Girl,” and he was her “Handsome Engineer,” and they were married five months later. The romance started off on the “wrong foot” when Bob showed up on his first date in uniform and combat boots to take Verniece to a dance. He hitchhiked from boot camp to and from his wedding, with faith that he would get to both on time. Bob’s first son was born while he was in Germany. He went on to earn the Silver Star for gallantry and Purple Heart in the Battle of the Bulge, saving the life of his jeep driver, Carl DeBoard. Verniece, always ready to help her husband, took “family readiness” to a new level when she mailed a .45 caliber sidearm to Bob, which he ultimately used to shoot two Germans attempting to kill his driver.
Bob and Verniece built a home together In Birmingham, Michigan, and at the time of Verniece’s death on August 11, 2016, they had been married 73 years, and their loving union produced six children, 18 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. After 34 years of service, Bob retired from General Motors Technical Center, Warren, Michigan, as a metallurgical engineer, and head of General Motors Engineering Analysis team. During the last ten years with GM, Bob testified as an expert witness in products liability litigation, testifying about product characteristics and failure analysis. After retirement, he went on to consult with Toyota and Nissan. In August of 2018, Bob was interviewed by Rishi Sharma, founder of “Heroes of the Second World War.” Though Bob’s physical health was failing, his mind was sharp and he recalled vividly his World War II experiences, and was looking forward to others being able to see it on YouTube when the interview was completed. Bob’s life was a testament to his love for his family and country. Remaining to celebrate Bob and Verniece’s lives, which were well lived, are their children Robert A. Bailey, Jr. (Sheri); Lynn Renee Skelly; Marilyn E. Bailey (Richard Colgan); John G. Bailey; Mary Jo Beck (Gill); Paul M. Bailey; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A burial of both Bob and Verniece will be at the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, Black Mountain, North Carolina, On Friday August 24th 2018 at 2:00 PM with full military honors, and a 21-gun-salute. Penland Family Funeral Home is honored to be caring for the Bailey Family.