Jean (Trusty) Bailey, the last survivor of seven children in a long-time Tillamook family, has died. She lived in Tillamook for 94 years, working at Tillamook PUD, the Tillamook High School Guidance Department and the former Sears Catalog Store. For many years she was secretary for the Tillamook Pioneer Assoc. In 1999 she was Pioneer of the Year and during a year in the 1980s she was Tillamook Businesswoman of the Year. She was very proud to be a founding member of the Tillamook High School Alumni Scholarship Fund and a board member of that group since its founding. The fund was established in 1991 at a reunion of the classes of 1941, 1942 and 1943.
Jean passed away on Sept. 18 at the age of 97. She was the last living child of Sylvester and Nellie (Cooper) Trusty, the last living member of the Tillamook High School class of 1941, and the longest-tenured member of the Tillamook United Methodist Church.
Nora Jean Trusty was born in a logging camp in the community of Lyle in Klickitat County, Washington, on May 6, 1923, the fifth child. By pre-arrangement with the local doctor, when her mother said she was ready to give birth, the family hung a lantern in their front window. The doctor saw the light from his house on a road below, came up and delivered Jean.
At the age of three, her family completed their move from Louisiana to the west coast when they moved from Lyle to Bay City. When Jean was age five, they moved to a former Methodist parsonage in Tillamook on the spot now occupied by the U.S. Post Office. All this movement was the result of her father’s career in sawmills. Sylvester (known as Vester) began working in sawmills when he was a small child, eventually retiring as Head Sawyer at Buehner Lumber in Tillamook in 1957.
By the time the family moved to Tillamook, there were seven Trusty children, after the addition of Jack and David.
Everything changed for the Trusty's in 1934 when their mother Nellie died. Jean was 11 years old. She went to live with her oldest sister, Esther Pangborn, her husband, Marvin, and their two little girls, Joanie and June. Vester moved the other children back to Bay City, but they were still a close-knit family. In later life the Trusty children often said the strength of their life-long bond had a lot to do with the untimely death of their mother.
After graduating from Tillamook High School as salutatorian and editor of the annual, Jean attended Oregon State College in Corvallis. She only attended for a few terms before she realized she could no longer afford college. Instead she took a test for the Farmers Home Administration, scored the highest of anyone in Oregon and ended up working for the FHA, first in Oregon City and a few months later in Hillsboro as the Office Manager. She had so little money in college that to get to Oregon City from Corvallis for her first FHA job, she had to borrow from her sister Esther to get on a bus with her one suitcase. Though her plans for a college degree were interrupted for a few decades, she made sure each of her four children graduated from college, then went back to school and got her own bachelor’s degree from Marylhurst University. In her 50s she also learned to play the piano.
In 1945, Charles D. “Bud” Bailey returned from service during WWII. Jean came to Tillamook for a wedding and ended up meeting Bud and going on a date with him. He told her, “Don’t get any ideas. I’m playing the field.” They were married on October 26, 1946, in the Tillamook Methodist Church.
Jean was an active member of the United Methodist Church nearly her entire life. She started teaching Sunday school when she was a senior in high school. She taught for more than 30 years. She was secretary to the Methodist Administrative Board for many years, served on several church committees, including a committee to build a new church, and helped organize bazaars, rummage sales and the church newsletter.
For many years she donated time to Senior Meals.
Jean worked as the assistant to Jack Madison, general manager of Tillamook PUD for about 20 years during which the Madisons and Baileys became close friends.
Though she was a strong early proponent of women’s rights, she was also proud to be “the woman behind the man.” She encouraged her husband to serve on the Tillamook City Council and later to run for the Tillamook County Commission where he served for eight years. He later became Deputy Director of the state Agriculture Dept., all of which he said would never have happened without the encouragement and council of his wife. One of the accomplishments of which both Bud and Jean were most proud was the effort that Bud led in the 1970s to contract with the Adventist Health organization to run the Tillamook County General Hospital and to pass a bond measure and secure federal grants to remodel it.
Jean was pre-deceased by her husband (in 1996) and siblings Esther Pangborn, James Trusty, Rhoda Sumner, Earmalee Hiersche, Jack Trusty and David Trusty. She also lost her eldest daughter Kim Harritt in 2016.
Jean will be remembered as a person of honesty, integrity and compassion. She believed in hard work and education, and loved the Tillamook community.
She is survived by her son, David Bailey (Melanie), daughters Keleen Woelke (James) and Jennifer Chamberlain (John), son-in-law Robert Harritt, and grandsons Travis Harritt (Sally), Wade Harritt (Courtney), and Clint Harritt (Kara), seven great-grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews and other close family members.
Please make donations in lieu of flowers to:
The Tillamook High School Alumni Scholarship Fund, PO Box 195, Tillamook, OR 97141.
The family plans a small private graveside service and an open memorial service next summer.