Bertha “Bee” Mary Bailey was born at the family home on Jan. 13, 1931, in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was the ninth child out of 11 born to Thomas and Bertha Thornton (Grosz). She is predeceased by her parents and all of her siblings, Richard, Howard, Robert, Edward, Thomas, Charles and John Thornton, and sisters, Bess Thornton, Dorothy Bertram and Marian Armstrong.
Bee grew up in Pittsburgh. She attended Langley High School and Felix Beauty Academy. In 1947, she married John B. Bailey. They moved to Montana in 1983. John predeceased her in 1985. Bee worked many years as a hairdresser, including a position with St. John’s Nursing Home. Her passion was baking and cooking. She became the baker at St. John’s, a position she loved and remained at for 10 years. In 1997, Bee began working as a receptionist at her daughter, Pam’s, law office. She continued in that position until age 82.
Bee was a member of the Guyasuta Chapter of the Eastern Star in Pittsburgh. She was the youngest lady to serve as Worthy Matron in Pennsylvania at that time. She was also active in local politics with her husband and was President of the Murrysville Republican Woman. Bee was a long time Sunday school teacher.
In Montana, Bee was a big supporter of ZooMontana. She cooked for all of the ZooGrass bands in the early years. The bands loved her and her food. Her favorite was Eddie Money, with whom she swapped recipes by mail long after the concert. She also enjoyed many trips with her daughters around the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, in addition to London, the Caribbean and Mexico. She especially loved her yearly trip to Pittsburgh to watch her beloved Pittsburgh Steelers play.
Bee is survived by her daughters, Pamela J. Bailey and Carol J. Bailey, both of Billings. She had the unique ability to be best friends with her daughters without ever losing their respect as a mother. She is survived by many nieces and nephews, including her niece, Patricia Hardy, of Pittsburgh, whom she considered as a third daughter. Many thanks go to Gayle Stewart, the Ewelt Family, David and Susan Roth, and the McLinden and Sweeney families, who were good friends and supporters of her and her daughters.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 9, at Faith Chapel, 517 Shiloh Road.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to ZooMontana.