J. Vernon Bailey
August 27, 1931 – July 26, 2017
Vernon Bailey, 85, passed away early on July 26th, 2017, after a short illness, with his wife (Joan) and son (William) at his side.
Vernon was born August 27th, 1931 in Harrisburg (now a part of Houston), Texas, to Vernon Bailey and Bryan-native Gladys Ruth Bailey (née Broach). Vernon graduated from Milby High School in 1949 and earned a degree in Physics from Rice University in 1953. He later went on to earn a degree in Geology from UT Austin in 1962.
He worked at the Radiological Laboratory of UT and USAF before starting his 23-year career with NASA in Houston in 1964 (with employee number 00123). His career began at the beginning of the Gemini program, through all of the Apollo moon missions, Skylab Space Station, the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project and the beginning of the Space Shuttle program. During many of these historic missions, he would be found either working at the Space Environment Console next to Mission Control or at Cape Canaveral, always monitoring crew safety from radiation during the mission. He was in Mission Control for the historic missions of Apollo 8, the moon landing of Apollo 11, and the ill-fated Apollo 13 among many others. It was for his participation in the successful effort to bring the crew of Apollo 13 home that lead to his being one of the ground team award the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It was during his NASA career that Vernon was the then free-world expert on space radiation dosimetry, attending a number of conferences to speak about his experiences.
Following his retirement from NASA in 1987, Vernon joined Grumman as a NASA contractor. After retirement from Grumman, he and his wife moved to Bryan.
Vernon was a long-time member of First Presbyterian Church in Dickinson, where he served as an Elder for many years, as well as leading the church youth group.
Along with his wife, Vernon bred and exhibited dogs for a number of years and was active in several kennel clubs in Texas. He also engaged in his love of car repair, woodworking, remodeling, and computers during retirement.
In addition to his wife and son, he is also survived by his two grandchildren, Alexa and Guillaume.
Memorial services will be held at Callaway-Jones Funeral Home on Wednesday, August 9th at 1 pm, with a visitation beginning at 12:45 pm. He will be laid to rest in the historic Alexander Cemetery outside Bryan. In lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy are with your family in your time of grief for Vernon.
Fond memories of great times spent with an extraordinary Uncle have come rushing back to me and will remain in my thoughts.
Love from Robert V and the Hardy family – Tammy, Amanda, and Erin