December 5, 1942 — October 25, 2018
After a long battle of kidney failure due to diabetes, “Pastor” Lester Bailey, 75, made the glorious transition from this earth to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, October 25, 2018.
He passed away peacefully with his family surrounding him and his precious pocket Bible echoing God’s Word throughout the room. His devotion to his family and strong belief in God supported him in his struggle with his sickness, but also gave him and his loved ones peace.
He was born to the late Lester E Bailey Sr. and the late Una Butcher in Richwood, West Virginia. He grew up very poor and didn’t get to complete high school because he needed to help support the family. He was always a hard worker.
Over the years has worked for the Hillbilly Press in West Virginia, as a Democrat-Herald photographer, worked for Albany Fire Department, Bailey Janitorial & Carpet Cleaning, Safeway, as a school bus driver, manager at Hillhouse/Santiam Terrace and Walnut Court Apartments, and assistant pastor at First Church of God. He also has served as interim pastor at many locations around the state, and as pastor at Oak Hill Community Church. He was Church of God Summer White Branch Youth Camp Director and Children’s Church Director at State Camp meeting, Hospice and Hospital Chaplain and Founder/Director of Albany Helping Hands Homeless Shelter.
His family moved to Oregon in 1960 where he became a member of the first Church of God in Albany. At that time, he also began work at the Albany Fire Department, where he soon developed his lifelong friendship with Lyle Vogt.
In 1963, he returned to West Virginia for a short visit where he met his first wife, Billie Joyce Colvin. They were married after a short three-week courtship and then moved back to Oregon where he continued to work for the Albany Fire Department until 1969. He developed many friendships through the fire department and was very proud to be included in the firehouse museum and the retired fireman’s breakfast club.
After working at the fire department, he went to work for the family janitorial business and also became an ordained minister. As a young boy in West Virginia, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and he has been a server of God ever since. In 1984, Lester got the opportunity to start Oakhill Community Church. They had many groups evolve out of that church, including the Oakhill Gospel Singers, led by his sister Jean, in which Lester was part of the band playing his “Jaw Harp.”
Additionally, without realizing it at the time, the beginning of the church also marked the beginning of his “Homeless Ministry.” Growing up poor, Lester’s heart was always to help the poor and needy so he wanted to find a way to help those that needed it the most. In a joint effort with other local churches, they would make sack lunches at the church and then Lester and Arlene Casey, the church bus driver at the time, would distribute those to the people in need.
Over the years, things evolved and they began using the church as the homeless shelter. He had a great ability to generate support from many local churches and organizations who saw the vision while just trying to help the poor.
Little did he know that 14 years later in 1998 that Albany Helping Hands would become a reality. Lester not only ensured that a homeless shelter would exist in Albany but he led the shelter with the utmost love and respect for the shelter guests and personnel for 10 years.
His love for all those who came in contact with him was evident. Never would you walk away from Lester without having smiled, for he always left people better than he found them. His Legacy will be forever remembered by the community for this great organization he founded.
In 2009, after the death of his first wife, he married Arlene (Jones) Casey, where they continued the ministries of the church and Albany Helping Hands.
Some of his hobbies included gold panning, metal detecting and writing. In fact, in 1975 he was hit by a car and during that time off of work he put his mind to writing and during that time he wrote three books of poems. Additionally, Lester was a collector of many things including coins, Bibles and most importantly, friends. His most cherished moments were spent praying and studying in his Bible, as well as spending time with his family at Saturday breakfast and he especially enjoyed camping in Quartzville. He always said that when he was camping he always felt closer to God.
Surviving members of his family include his wife, Arlene; sister, Jean Nelson; brother, Randy Bailey; children, James Bailey and girlfriend, Beverly Gold, Deborah Bailey and partner, Eartha Helton, Melodi Cadwell and husband, Jason Cadwell, Kristin Casey, Ryan Casey, Jason Casey and Barb and Jared Thayer, who he loved as his own kids; granddaughters, Jordan Bailey, Rhianna Cadwell and Melissa Cadwell; close friends, Roger Hicks and Jim Sapp; as well as many other nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father, Lester E Bailey Sr.; mother, Una (Butcher) Bailey; brothers, Charles Bailey and Bill Bailey; as well as Lyle Vogt, who he loved like a brother and Grace Gantt, who he loved like a sister.
The family would like to thank the team of doctors and nurses at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Corvallis, the North Albany dialysis center and Call A Ride for all of their hard work and care for Lester.
There will be a memorial service held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 10, at Hope Church (formerly Assembly of God) 2817 Santiam Hwy. SE, Albany, OR 97322. Fisher Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
We ask that in lieu of flowers please make a contribution to one of Lester’s three favorite groups: Albany Helping Hands, Feed the Children or Gideon’s in care of Fisher Funeral Home, 306 SW Washington St., Albany, OR 97321.
Lester had a passion and zeal for preaching God’s word. He loved to share God’s love not only in word but also in deed. His servant’s heart and love for Jesus compelled him to connect with people in a meaningful way. He led countless people to know Jesus as their Savior and left a legacy of authentic love. Lester will be sorely missed by the community, his family and friends.
Online condolences for the family may be posted at www.fisherfuneralhome.com.