07/18/06 — DR. BAILEY — His ‘Daily Bread’ nurtured millions

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DR. BAILEY — His ‘Daily Bread’ nurtured millions

In the passing of Dr. A. Purnell Bailey, readers of this newspaper - and others around the country — lost a longtime friend.

His “Our Daily Bread” column dated back to Oct. 4, 1945, when the first one appeared in Star and Stripes. At that time, he was a young Methodist minister serving as staff chaplain for General Douglas McArthur.

He had been asked to do a “brief, encouraging message of faith” for the benefit of the nation’s GIs. And Purnell Bailey wrote encouraging messages of faith virtually every day for the next six decades.

The relationship with Dr. Bailey was a personal one for many in this area. He was a close friend of Dr. Burkette Raper, retired president of Mount Olive College. They met at Duke Divinity School when Dr. Raper was a student there.

Dr. Bailey and Dr. Raper visited and corresponded regularly thereafter.

Years ago, when Dr. Bailey was observing the 50th anniversary of his syndicated column, the then-editor of the News-Argus traveled to Bailey’s home in Reston. Va., for the occasion. Displayed on a long table in the living room were copies of all the newspapers carrying Our Daily Bread. Squarely in the center — before a vase of flowers — was the Goldsboro News-Argus!

Bailey and the editor emeritus of the News-Argus have maintained contact by letter and telephone through the years.

A graduate of Randolph-Macon College, Dr. Bailey served as pastor of a number of United Methodist churches in his native Virginia and later was superintendent of the largest district in the Methodist Church. In his last years as an active minister, he was in charge of United Methodist chaplains worldwide.

Dr. Bailey was the recipient of many honors, not the least of which was his being presented the Distinguished Alumni Award by the Duke University Divinity School in 2001.

But his greatest recognition must have been in the hearts of millions of people across our great land — and beyond — who, down through the years, looked forward to “Our Daily Bread.”

Published in Editorials on July 18, 2006 1:52 PM