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Thelma  Riley  Bailey

Obituary for Thelma Riley Bailey

September 2, 1921 - May 13, 2018
Murray, Kentucky | Age 96


Thelma Riley Bailey, 96, of Murray died Sunday, May 13, 2018, at her home.
Born in the Golo Community of Graves County on September 2, 1921, she was the only child of Ezra Walton Riley and Maud Penny. Her paternal grandparents were Wallace Riley and Rosa Gruggett and her maternal grandparents were Clarence Edward David Penny and Rebecca Glasgow. She moved from Kirksey to Murray in 1934 when her parents opened Riley's Food Market at the corner of Main & 16th and she continued at various times to assist in the operation of the grocery until the Rileys retired and the business was sold to Ed and Sadie West in 1956.
She graduated from Murray Training School and, on February 6, 1938, she was married to Kenneth Keys "Jack" Bailey at the First Methodist Church of Huntington, Tenn. by Rev. C.E. Norman with Martha Robertson and John Outland, both of Murray, as attendants. At the time of Jack's death on January 19, 2013, they had been married almost 75 years.
Following her husband's service in the European Theatre during WWII, he worked for the United States Government for 35 years, serving as a civil engineer with the Maps And Surveys Branch of the Tennessee Valley Authority. As his work required frequent relocations to various parts of the country where the TVA was building dams and steam plants, the Baileys were called upon to relocate approximately 60 times before his retirement in 1974.
Mrs. Bailey was a member of the Zeta Department of the Murray Woman's Club since the early 1940s and was a past president of that department. Her service also included a tenure as secretary to the Woman's Club Board as well as press book chairperson. For many years, she was active in the affairs of the local Republican Party and served as a poll worker for numerous elections.
A life-long Methodist, her membership in the Murray church spans the last 15 senior ministers, beginning with Rev. O.A. Marrs who was minister when she joined First Methodist in 1934. According to church records, her membership in the FUMC placed her as one of the two longest serving members at the time of her death.
Her involvement in the church affairs included membership in the Mattie Belle Hayes Circle, the Wesleyan Circle and, in recent decades, the Tucker-Frost Circle. Long active in Methodist women's organizations, she was, throughout the years, a member of the Missionary Society, the WSCS and the United Methodist Women, respectively.
Mrs. Bailey was the first woman secretary to the church's Official Board and served, at various times, on the church's Nominating Committee, the Board of Trustees, the Parsonage Committee and as Chair of the Wesley Foundation Board. She served on the building committee for the new Wesley Center which opened on Payne Street in 1981. She was named Outstanding Methodist Woman by the FUMC in 2017.
In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by a great niece, Allison Deanne Pritchett, in 2003.
Mrs. Bailey is survived by one niece, Becky Bailey Jackson and husband Jack of Evansville, Indiana; two nephews, Dr. Bill Bailey and wife Dianne of Columbia, Tenn., Dr. Ernie Bailey and wife Dorothy of Murray and by one great nephew, Matthew Trent Bailey and Kori of Nashville. She is also survived by long-time and devoted caregivers, Janeen Burkeen, Lottie Garland, Nita Perkins and Ava Peal. Several cousins also survive.
Funeral service will be at the First United Methodist Church of Murray at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 with Revs. Rick Dye, Jim Stahler and Bob Saywell, officiating. Burial will follow in the Murray City Cemetery. Visitation will be at the church from 1-3 p.m. preceding the funeral. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to the First United Methodist Church, 503 Maple Street, Murray, KY 42071 or the Anna Mae Owen Hospice House, 803 Poplar Street, Murray, KY 42071.
J.H. Churchill Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Online condolences can be left at,

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • First United Methodist Church
    503 Maple Street
    Murray, KY 42071
  • Anna Mae Owen Hospice House
    803 Poplar Street
    Murray, KY 42071

Arrangements By

J. H. Churchill Funeral Home

201 S. 3rd Street
Murray, KY 42071
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