Obituary of Willila Baxter
Willila "Lila" Wood Bailey-Baxter of Marlboro, died peacefully at home on April 14, 2018. She was 97 years old. Born at home in Milton, NY on August 13, 1920. She was the daughter of the late Edward Marion Wood and Marian Patton Wood.
Attending Milton Elementary and Marlboro High School, she studied piano and attended Milton Methodist Church. Always drawn to music, she cotinued her music studies at Fredonia Normal School, graduating with a teaching degree and having learned to play multiple instruments. She took a teaching job at Middletown, NY, where she led the choir and taught music her first year out of college. She then married Thomas Hallock Bailey of Milton, NY and after a year apart during which he became an ensign in the Navy and she taught, she followed him to various locations around the States as he continued first, his studies and then, his work as a navigator for the Navy, becoming a pilot and flight school teacher before his discharge from the Navy. They lived in Corpus Christie, TX; in San Diego, CA among other locations. She continued her LifeList of birds throughout her travels, keeping careful record of all the varieties sited in these new locations.
She loved the warmth of the South and, after a year when Tom was completing his undergraduate degree at the University of New York in Oswego, they left for Gainesville, FL, where he completed his Master's degree at the University of Florida. They soon built a house in Green Cove Springs, FL, just outside Jacksonville, where they lived with their new daughter, Gwenn. Three years later, they moved to Rome, GA, outside Atlanta, where Tom took a teaching position at Berry College.
From there, they moved to Pesotum, IL so that Tom could follow his dream of teaching aviation. He took a position at University of Illinois, in Champaign-Urbana. While near the university, they took advantage of its culture, becoming season ticket holders of the U of I symphony, as well as of its choral and smaller orchestral groups. They made frequent visits to the art galleries, attending many openings, During their years in Pesotum, Lila taught 2nd grade and then 1st grade. She earned much respect and love from both parents and students as a compassionate, yet firm teacher of reading as well as of all other elementary studies. They both became members of the Pesotum Methodist Church, joining many committees that helped run the church. Lila went back to Fredonia to obtain her B.A. in Elementary Education during this time.
They lived in Pesotum for thirteen years before moving to Kenosha, WI where Tom organized Gateway Technical Institute's aviation program. Lila took a position at the elementary school where she quickly established herself as a strong and well-respected elementary school teacher. They joined the Kenosha Yacht Club and bought both a sailboat and a motor yacht, enjoying many hours on Lake Michigan with friends. Here, too, they became steady churchgoers, helping guide the Kenosha Methodist Church. During these years, they continued traveling throughout the United States, visiting campgrounds in places as diverse as Hawaii; the Michigan dunes and Holland, Michigan; all the parks between Lake Michigan and eastern New York state on their annual and semiannual visits to see their parents in Milton; and to New Orleans to greet their new grandson, Benjamin Hallock Welch de Mauriac.
Tom and Lila retired from their positions in Wisconsin, sold their home with its now extensive gardens, and moved back East to look after Sarah Hull Hallock Bailey, Lila's mother-in-law, in her home in Milton. In February , 1985, the three travelled to New Orleans to partake in the birth of their second grandchild, Marigny Claire Denise de Mauriac. It was on this trip that Tom began to feel ill. When they returned home, he went in for tests which determined that he had a brain tumor. Lila nursed him diligently and compassionately until his death on Labor Day, 1985. She continued to live and care for her mother-in-law for the following three years. Sarah Hull Hallock Bailey died peacefully in January, 1988 at the age of 99.
In 1991, Lila married Edmund Baxter of Marlboro, NY, leaving her home in Milton for his farm on Plattekill Road. She spent many years with him, enjoying the peaceful abundance of the orchards and the many varieties of wildfowl and wildlife on and around their pond. Their home enjoyed the same careful nurturing of new plants, flowers and trees with which Lila had enhanced her previous homes. During their time together, they travelled to Europe, Hawaii, and Alaska and welcomed their third grandchild, Alexander Thomas Manning de Mauriac, to the world. Lila gently nursed Ed through his final illness; he died in June, 2004.
After Ed's death Lila continued to live at Plattekill Road, enjoying the company and support of many friends from Milton Methodist Church, which she had rejoined upon her return to New York, and other friends and acquaintances. Her life was eased by their support and made much happier, more peaceful and more joyous by their constant, loving care.
Survivors include her daughter Gwenn Ruth Bailey de Mauriac of Gulfport, MS, her stepdaughters; Laurie, Mary and Ruth and her grandchildren.
Willila was predeceased by her first husband Thomas Hallock Bailey, her second husband Edmund Baxter, and her brother Edward Wood
Graveside Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday morning at 9am at Cedar Hill Cemetery, Newburgh with Pastor Jody Spiak officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Wildlife Conservancy, the Natural Wildlife Foundation or the Milton Methodist Church.
Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Carl J. DiDonato, Jr. of the DiDonato Funeral Service, Inc.,
(845) 236-4300, www.didonatofuneralservice.com
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