She’s a bubbly optimist, a walking ray of sunshine. Hand her a lemon and she’s likely to make you a gourmet double lemon chiffon pie.
Teresa Bailey, an administrative assistant senior for the History Department, is a Huntington native from a family that spans four generations in the area. She lives in a house across the street from the one she grew up in and attends a church that is built on land donated by her great-great-grandfather. Family ties are the most important thing in her life. Even her upbeat and positive attitude is a family trait she says.
“My father, Ed Clark, was the happiest, most positive person I’ve ever known. He loved people, loved to have fun and to laugh. Everyone said that about him. He taught me to always look for the best in people.”
She’s been at Marshall for 21 years now, the last 16 in the history department. Fresh out of Huntington East High, she attended Marshall majoring in education until marriage and motherhood (she has two daughters, Fannie Loughridge, married to Craig, and Molly Elkins, married to Jimmy) became the focus of her life.
Returning to work when Molly started school, she found employment in a number of firms. She worked for Lazarus Department Store, at an accounting firm and later in a law office, but her eye was always cast at Marshall.
“I have always loved Marshall because I was born here and grew up here and it’s a part of me, a part of my family. I wanted to work here but jobs were very competitive. Finally when a job opened up in the dean’s office in the College of Business and I was hired, I was thrilled. I also worked in the marketing department and then there was a reorganization that combined the marketing and management departments, so I needed to be reassigned. Luckily a job opened in history and I decided to just go look around on my lunch hour. I didn’t know a soul there but everyone was so friendly, people spoke to me, they were all so nice, I felt right at home. When I got the job it was a leap of faith but it has turned out to be wonderful. I’ve had offers from other places since then but I’ve never left.”
She and the faculty have a mutual admiration society. A tall bookcase in her office is lined with an eclectic mix of items from all over the world, mementos of the traveling history faculty members who bring back keepsakes to add to her growing collection. There are porcelain dolls from Spain, stacking dolls from Russia, an eye-catching wooden perfume bottle from Belgium, pottery from Romania and a carved wooden box from El Salvador. Souvenirs from all over the U.S. proudly share space with the international treasures.
Bailey found herself living her travel life vicariously until 2004, when retiring professor Steve Riddel and his wife, Maria Carmen Riddel, currently professor of modern languages, treated her to a three-week trip to Spain. She accompanied them to Madrid, Maria Riddel’s hometown, where she spent time mingling with community members and seeing everyday life in a Spanish town firsthand.
“I met the butcher, the baker, people from all
walks of life," Bailey remembers. " The whole trip was wonderful from beginning
to end. In Sitges, we went to the beach and that was an awesome experience. I
also spent time in Barcelona, which was absolutely beautiful. The trip was one
of the highlights of my life ... I got to live my dream.
I know one thing, when I retire, I definitely would like to go back to Spain.”
Actually Bailey developed a lust for travel early and, thanks to her father, was able to fulfill a teenager’s dream. Huntington is a railroad town, she explains, and she’s from a long line of railroaders including her father, who worked at what was then the C&O Railroad. Among the employee perks were passes allowing family members to travel free. Teresa and her brother took full advantage of them regularly traveling to Baltimore to visit another brother. It was a heady experience for the high school girl who raced to the train after classes on Friday for an all-night ride through the dark countryside.
“I would get dressed up, and we would eat in the dining car and meet the most wonderful people. I am lucky because I grew up around trains. There is such a rich history in railroads and people who haven’t ridden on them have missed a wonderful experience. It makes me sad that this generation is not aware of the joys of riding trains.”
Bailey is going to make sure her two grandchildren, Owen, almost 4, and Riley, 3, don’t miss out on the fun. She hopes to rekindle old memories someday by taking them on a trip to Washington, D.C. And in a bit of serendipity, she’s delighted that her son-in-law Jimmy Elkins now works for CSX in the same building where her father once worked.
She counts herself lucky that both her work life and her family life are very happy and productive. “We have 14 full-time faculty members and I feel blessed that we all get along so well. The history faculty is among the most highly respected and productive departments on campus. They work very hard, but they’re fun to be around. They’ve become like my extended family. And I love working with the students; they keep you young.”
In fact, Bailey still keeps in touch with a group of retired faculty members, regularly meeting them for lunch and catch-up sessions.
She likes being able to keep her eye on her 82-year-old mother, Anna Lee Clark, who still lives in Teresa’s childhood home. Fortunately her mother is spry, drives her own car and is still active in community work and in the Cross Roads United Methodist Church in Huntington where four generations, including Bailey’s family, have worshipped.
“In my family we all stay busy," Bailey says. "I had wonderful role models in both my parents. We’re a true Appalachian story. We all live in this area: my mother, daughters, brother, aunts and uncles. Our family has stayed together, a rarity these days when families are scattered all over. I’m so fortunate that my daughters live in Barboursville and I can see my grandchildren often.”
Bailey loves all kinds of music but doesn’t play an instrument, although her father was quite talented and once played in a dance band. He was also a longtime church pianist and organist. She was a free spirited child, she admits, and her mother wanted her to take music lessons but “I couldn’t sit still long enough.” Her parents gave her the freedom to develop her own creativity and imagination and she’s proud that she gave her daughters the same opportunity. Now she’s encouraging her grandchildren to stretch their own imaginations.
The whole family likes to swim and they take full advantage of daughter Fannie’s pool in summer. They’re outdoor people, happiest when they’re heading outside. In the winter, she hones her considerable crafting skills--quilting, knitting and doing needlework of all kinds. She’s delighted that a history faculty member, Dr. Laura Michele Diener, is working with craft groups to collect items that are donated to charities including domestic shelters, children’s homes and nursing homes.
“I come from a long line of people who like to
stay busy,” Bailey says cheerfully. “If something needs to be done at home or at
work, I just do it. I know I’ve been blessed to have had a happy childhood and a
I am married to a wonderful man, Paul Bailey, my daughters are both very successful, productive women and I love being a grandparent. They are all the light of my life. It’s fun being a parent, but you have to be responsible.
When you become a grandparent, it’s just fun. I feel very rich every day.”
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