July 1923 ~ March 2022
Warren Tabor Bailey was born July 23, 1923 to Harry and Edith Bailey on the family farm in Spring Valley, Minnesota. He was the third of five children including a baby boy, Theodore, who died soon after birth. As a child, he attended a near-by country school with his older brother and sister Harry Jr. and Harriet, who were twins, and his younger brother Wayne.
These were depression days and times were hard for the family, so Warren’s father took a job at a Red Owl Grocery Store. Harry Sr. soon concluded that he, too, could run a grocery store and enjoy it more than farming. So, when Warren was 17, the family purchased a market in Spring Valley and moved to town. This was the beginning of Warren’s lifelong career in the grocery business.
In high school, when he wasn’t working at the family store, Warren found time to participate in numerous school activities. He sang in the high school chorus, was on both the football and basketball teams, and played tuba in the band.
In 1941 the country was at war. Warren traveled to California to visit his sister Harriet. He worked at Lockheed during his stay and attempted to enlist in the Navy. When that was not successful, he returned to Minnesota, enlisted in the Coast Guard instead, and was stationed in New York City.
In the fall of 1943, while home on leave, Warren met a young country school teacher, Janice Elton. It was Jan’s first year of teaching, and she was responsible for all eight grades in a one room school. Jan loved her teaching job, but she soon found that she loved Warren more. A year later they were married in New York City. They made their home there until Warren suffered a serious back injury on the job, and he was discharged from the Coast Guard.
After his discharge, the young couple returned to Minnesota. Warren resumed working with his father who now owned two grocery stores. In 1945 their daughter Cheryl was born. The very next year, daughter Leanna joined the family. Four years later, following a move to Iowa, their son Steven was born.
In 1952 the family decided to move again, this time to California. They settled in Turlock where Warren’s brother Wayne and his family had recently relocated, and where Warren’s father and mother were also planning to live. He immediately went to work in the grocery business again, first at Save Mart in Atwater, then at Brown’s Market, and Liberty Market in Turlock.
Turlock was a wonderful place to live. The Bailey’s first home was a rental close to downtown where the kids could walk to school and the family could walk to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. The congregation was very welcoming and life-long friendships were formed. Warren was very social. He loved people, loved to talk, and no one was a stranger to him. This trait served him well, both in his personal life and in the grocery business.
In 1959 the Bailey family was completed when a fourth child, Jon, was born. As he grew up, he followed in his dad’s footsteps, the third generation to pursue a career in the grocery business.
Many happy years passed. Jan resumed the teaching career she had given up in her forties and Warren continued to work for the Doo brothers at Liberty Market. The kids grew up, married, and gifted them with grandchildren. Warren and Jan celebrated their 30th and then 40th anniversaries. Suddenly it was time to think about retirement.
In 1983, Warren retired. By then he had been working in a grocery store on and off since 1934. Jan retired soon after. She had been teaching for twenty-five years. They began to travel more and even reached their goal of visiting all 50 states.
Warren was seldom idle in his retirement. With a neighbor he established a large fruit and vegetable garden and delighted in passing out fresh produce to family and friends. He bought power tools and made garage cabinets, bookshelves, plant stands, and many other things for grateful family members. He loved to barbecue or bake a big prime rib for family dinners.
In 1994 Warren and Jan celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a renewal of vows at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church followed by a dinner for 200 guests. It was the big church wedding celebration that they couldn’t have during the war.
As Jan’s health began to fail, Warren lovingly assumed more and more of her care, as well as caring for the house and making most of the meals. He was truly a devoted husband. After her passing in 2004, he grieved greatly, but he never lost his spirit or zest for life. At age 80 he had a total knee replacement so he could visit Minnesota and New York again. In celebration of his 82nd birthday, he even went parasailing in Mexico. He attended weddings and family events and especially looked forward to his own birthday party every year. Warren loved to hold every new grandchild, great-grandchild and great-great grandchild in his arms. Shortly before he passed, he tried to persuade Leanna that they needed to travel to Delaware to meet Archer Reeves, his newest great-great grandchild.
Warren’s life spanned an amazing 98 years, a very long time and yet too short. On March 18, 2022, he passed peacefully in his sleep after visiting with family members. He left us with a legacy of love – love for his entire family and his home, love for his God and for his church, love for his friends and neighbors through the years, and always his love for his home state of Minnesota.
Even as the Sun goes down to the end the light of day,
It’s rising on a new horizon somewhere far away.
And though the world seems darker for the loss of one we miss,
Our loved one’s life is dawning in a brighter world than this.
A viewing will be held on Sunday, March 27, 2022 from 3-5 pm at Allen Mortuary, 247 N. Broadway, Turlock, CA 95380
The funeral will take place on Monday, March 28, 2022 at 10:00 am at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 640 Minaret Ave, Turlock, CA 95380
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Memorial Fund.