Eddy lived 20 years, 5 months and 19 days. He and his brother Brett were and are the absolute joy of our lives. We feel half alive without Eddy, and we have to figure out a way to go on. He would want us to even though some days we do not even care to go on without his sweet life mixed in with ours.
Eddy was 6’3 and 250 lbs at the time of his death. He was our gentle giant, our Eddy Bear. Words cannot describe the loss, but he does live on inside our hearts. We do know he was a gift to us from God, and we are so thankful for that. He taught us kindness, humility and humor. Eddy had the driest wit of anyone we’ve ever met.
The last weekend of his life he went to LaCrosse, Wisconsin to see his best friend play in a football game. He had told me via email he was going to LaCrosse and I emailed him right back and said “who is driving Eddy; I don’t want anything to happen to you.” He said his good friend was driving and not to worry. He spent Friday and Saturday nights in LaCrosse with many of his friends from high school.
On Sunday he returned to Madison to study as he had four major exams that week. He told his roommate he was very tired, and he watched the Green Bay Packer game with his roommate on Sunday afternoon. On Monday, Eddy went to his college classes. At 4pm that afternoon, he took a shower and told his roommates he was feverish and he could NOT get sick because he had his four exams that week. He thought he was catching the flu. He took some Nyquil and went to bed after eating a bowl of chili. At 7 a.m. that next morning, Eddy knocked on his roommate’s door and told Vince he was having trouble breathing. Vince said “should I call 911?” Eddy said to Vince, “GO FOR IT.” The paramedics were there within two minutes, and Eddy had collapsed onto the floor. He lost consciousness soon thereafter and was pronounced dead at 8:02 a.m. at the ER of Meriter Hospital in Madison. Meningococcemia, Type C, had claimed his sweet sweet life.
Edward Joseph Bailey “Eddy” was born in Clarinda, Iowa to Phillip J. and Gail F. Bailey. He arrived at 12:01 a.m. and he was 8 lbs. 8 ounces. His older brother is Brett James Bailey, and Brett was born in August of 1980. Eddy had colic for the first three months of his life, and it was very hard listening to him cry so much and trying to sooth him. Some days I would end up crying because his colic was so bad. Later on, Eddy had allergies so I always wondered if it was allergies that made him colicky at first. Then he turned into the sweetest baby a mother and father could have. He had a little round head and the cutest smile and the sweetest disposition. I remember carrying him around on my hip for the first few years of his life and he was my little butterball. He loved to be read to just like his older brother loved to be read to. I would have two little boys, one under each arm, with their brown little hair and dark brown eyes, and I would read to them everyday several times a day. At age 3, in preschool the teacher told us she discovered Eddy was reading a book in the corner of the classroom. She thought he had just memorized it, but then she realized he could read. He was a precocious sweet little boy. He entered kindergarten when he was five years old; Eddy was soooooooooo big for his size. When I would take him to the doctor, Dr. Zehr, for his baby checkups, Dr. Zehr would measure him, look at me and say “well, he’s blown off the charts again.” Eddy loved to eat his entire life. Nobody enjoyed food more than our Eddy.
He excelled in school and in 9th grade he told us he wanted to be the valedictorian for his Class of 2000. We told him that was a wonderful goal if he could do that. Lo and behold, he did it! We were so proud of him. He was so unassuming and so humble about it all.
His greatest assets were his kindness and his gentleness. Eddy was so big for his age and so strong and so smart that the football coaches wanted him to go out for football. They asked him over and over and over again, and he agonized about the decision and decided not to go out for football. I was relieved, but I also knew that he was too gentle for a sport like that. He just couldn’t do the hitting and the knocking that that sport requires but he was the best statistician Jefferson High ever had. Eddy excelled at math so he put his math skills to use being the statistician at all the football games. He was a regular site with his clipboard and his baseball cap and his shorts walking up and down the sidelines and then coming home and reporting the stats to the newspapers. He was so sweet and he especially loved to keep the stats when his big brother Brett was playing as linebacker. He shared his knowledge with his classmates, and we found out at his visitation how many peers he had tutored while he was at school. We didn’t realize how much he had done and two young gals told us they would never have made it through high school without Eddy’s help each day in study hall. We are so proud of him.
His gentleness was so profound. I bought a little parakeet from a co-worker and brought it home thinking it would be a big mistake. Eddy proved me wrong. He loved that little bird more than words can express. He fed it, he played with it, he watered it, he loved Babe so much. He worked hours and hours with him to get him to say “Go Big Red” and “pretty bird” and Babe said it. He taught Babe how to kiss our lips on command. He was a giant strapping hulk of a boy and this precious tiny parakeet, he tended to with such love and care. That exemplifies Eddy to the max.
One day he told me he walked out to our curb to get the mail and on his way back inside the house he realized that Babe was sitting on his shoulder. Babe could have flown off and had his freedom, but even that tiny pet knew a good thing when he found it. Eddy was so kind to every living thing. He went off to college at the UW Madison. He loved it there, and he was excelling in his studies. He was double majoring in Economics and Finance and finally he found a place where his math brilliance was paying off. He took such hard subjects and aced them all; he had been asked to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship. It was an incredible honor, but he didn’t even tell any of his friends. That is how humble he was.
Thank you for letting us share with you about our beautiful sweet son, Edward Joseph Bailey. We will love him forever.
Gail and Phillip Bailey, Eddy’s parents and Brett James, his big brother.