Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Dorothy C. Bailey, 90, former Woman of the Year, dies

By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SILVERTON — One of Dorothy Cunningham Bailey's first jobs was to help the thousands of Cincinnati residents who lost electricity for weeks during the great flood of 1937.

        It was the beginning of a long career as a social worker and professor. The Cincinnati Enquirer named Mrs. Bailey a Woman of the Year in 1975.

        In 1981, at age 70, Mrs. Bailey traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak at the Reagan administration's White House Conference on Aging.

        Mrs. Bailey died Jan. 9 at Victoria Nursing Home in Norwood. The Silverton resident was 90.

        She began her career with the Hamilton County Deparment of Public Welfare and later worked for the Family Service of Greater Cincinnati.

        Hattie Harris, who now lives in Los Angeles, was one of hundreds of people helped by Mrs. Bailey through the years. “Helping people is what she was about,” Ms. Harris said.

        They met when Ms. Harris was a troubled teen-ager in Cincinnati. Mrs. Bailey shepherded her through high school and helped her get into college. She said Mrs. Bailey gave her hope.

        “Up until then, it was pretty hopeless for me,” she said. “She taught me how to dream.”

        The two women kept in touch.

        In 1967, Mrs. Bailey became a professor of social work at Ohio State University and was liaison in charge of students working in the field in Cincinnati.

        She traveled to Russia, China, Africa and Europe to study how those countries treated their elderly. It was for that expertise that she was invited to Washington.

        Mrs. Bailey was born in Cincinnati in 1911 and orphaned at age 14. She and her siblings went to the New Orphan Asylum for Colored Children.

        She graduated from Walnut Hills High School and the University of Cincinnati.

        Mrs. Bailey received a master's degree from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and did additional graduate study at Tulane University in New Orleans.

        She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Mrs. Bailey received the Distinguished Alumni Award from UC and the Urban League's Glorifying the Lion Award.

        Survivors include: her husband of 32 years, Richard; a son, Malcolm Cochrane of downtown; and a sister, Anita Cunningham of North Avondale.

        Services have been held. Burial was at Spring Grove Cemetery.


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