Edith Willametta Howard Bailey June 17, 1921 - September 9, 2022


Edith Willametta Howard Bailey was born June 17, 1921, on a hot, sunny day in the family home in Wheatland, Wyoming to parents Ray and Florence Howard.  She lived an amazing 101+ years and passed peacefully away September 9, 2022, almost three months after celebrating her 101st birthday.  Edith, known as “Willie,” growing up, had three siblings:  Jack, Joe, and Helen. Her family moved to Idaho, Missouri, and Arkansas at various times during her childhood, but they returned to Wheatland, where she graduated from high school.  One of her first jobs was at the Wheatland Golden Rule Department Store, where customer service truly lived out the name of the store.  She met John L. Bailey, Jr., also a graduate of Wheatland High School, and enjoyed going to dances with him.    A courtship began and before long, they were married April 20th, 1943.  Since it was wartime, they moved to a flight training base in Ajo, Arizona.  Following the war and John’s service overseas, they relocated to Laramie, Wyoming, where John began his engineering studies at the University of Wyoming. Upon graduation from the University, John received an engineering job offer from The Boeing Company in Seattle and they moved there.  


Edith and John raised three children: John Howard, Jo Ellen, and Melinda.  She was very involved in their church as a Deacon and volunteer, garden club, as well as in the activities of the children, such as Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, swimming, school PTA, community pool, to name a few.  When all three children had completed their higher educations, Edith took her turn at college.  At age 55, she began classes at Highline Community College, and later transferred to another “UW”, the University of Washington, where she earned her Bachelors’ degree in English and teaching, graduating with Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors.  Not long after that, she began her Masters’ Degree studies in Literature. One of her favorite professors was noted author Dr. Ivan Doig. She loved learning and helping others learn.  She began to work at Highline Community College, teaching basic reading, writing and English as a Second Language.  Many of her students were immigrants from Southeast Asia, Germany, India, and other parts of the world.  These students often became special friends with whom she and John kept in touch for many years.  She was an exceptionally capable teacher and leader of the program for students learning English as a second language.  The excellence of her teaching is best exemplified by Highline Community College awarding Edith the first ever “Teacher of the Year” award.  She and John also loved to travel and visited many parts of the USA and world in their retirement years.


Edith had a gift for hospitality and loved making family and friend gatherings special and fun.  She made many, many wonderful meals, as well as the best pies (apple was a favorite), homemade hand-cranked ice cream, divinity and special holiday meals and treats. She loved her book club and working in her garden growing blueberries, hydrangeas, day lilies, and trilliums as some of her specialties. Her family grew to 28, with marriages of their children, six grandchildren, and nine great-grand-children. 


Edith was preceded in death by her husband John, as well as great-grandson Emerson Hoover.  She was a beloved mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, teacher, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend who will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.  A celebration of her life is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. November 5, 2022, and will be available via livestream at:




In lieu of flowers, charitable gifts may be made in her honor to any of the following:

Lake Burien Presbyterian Church Memorial Fund, Judson Park Benevolence Fund, or Highline Community College Scholarship fund.