Sterling resident, Mr. Melvin Leroy Bailey, 69, passed away suddenly Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 in Soldotna.
A service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. at Birch Ridge Community Church.
Born in California to a family of horsemen, Mel became the youngest person to receive a horse trainer's license, going on to train champion racehorses and representing jockeys as an agent. The racetrack molded his character and he reaped the benefits from knowing the greatest leaders in history, like Ronald Reagan, Omar Bradley and Audie Murphy, whose influences followed him throughout life.
In 1968 he served his beloved country in the most decorated unit ever, the Army's 101st Airborne, 2nd 327 ("No Slack") in Vietnam. Injured, Mel returned to the states and became a drill instructor. He was honorably discharged in 1970 with the rank of Sergeant (E5). "Boom Boom Bailey" stayed friends with many men he served with, meeting in Las Vegas every October.
In 1974 he married his best friend, Micki, in Audubon Park, New Orleans. Mel was a community activist, instrumental in revitalizing the now famous French Market, NOLA foundation and other programs still utilized in the French Quarter. Friends from New Orleans remember him fondly as "Mushroom Mel."
In the '80s, Mel became a world renowned "pitchman," traveling coast to coast, boarder to boarder demonstrating as seen on TV products. He was a celebrity in the pitch business, lovingly referred to as "Robin Marx."
Upon the birth of his grandson Dakota in 1992, Mel moved to Alaska and began his final career, with one last alias: Grandpa. What a grandpa he was, to everyone. His greatest joy came from making breakfast burritos for the grandkids' various teams, watching them play sports, sing and skate, and going to lunch together. He loved traveling with his family, and was always the life the party, willing to go on any roller coaster, dress in any costume, and play any game.
The one word that has consistently been used to describe Mel is: Selfless. He was selfless almost to a fault. Mel loved everyone, deeply, and he would inconvenience himself to be of assistance to anyone at any time, stranger or friend. For this he will always be remembered, and missed, because he was loved as deeply by others as he loved them.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Virginia Baker, and wife, Micki Bailey.
He is survived by daughter, Amber Abbott; son-in-law, Mike Abbott; grandchildren, Dakota, Calean (Stefanie VanBruggen), James, Macylea, Elijah and Mackenzie; daughter, Becki Toon; son-in-law David; grandsons Justin, Deaven and Rian; Terri Pate and Christina Bowman who he loved like daughters; sisters, Roni Gregory and Donna Bloomquist; brother, Larry Lamonto; best friends Mickey and Cheryl, and many others.
He leaves behind his loving family, friends, and dogs, Gideon and Koda, I'm sure he left early to start making the feast we will share with him in heaven.
Arrangements made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel & Crematory. Please visit or sign his online guestbook at AlaskanFuneral.com.
Peninsula Memorial Chapel & Crematory
35910 Jawle Street
Soldotna, AK 99669
Published in The Peninsula Clarion on Dec. 11, 2016