William J. Bailey, former Heights mayor, dies at 81

By Kevin Olsen
From The Regional News

William J. Bailey, the second mayor of Palos Heights, died on Oct. 24 in Hudson, Fla. He was 81.

Mr. Bailey served as alderman from 1967 to 1973 before his election as mayor of Palos Heights. He served from 1973 to 1981.

A 36-year resident of the Westgate subdivision in Palos Heights, Mr. Bailey also served as the city’s health inspector after he was mayor.

“He always liked the city and wanted it to be the best town it could be,” his daughter, Cynthia Mikos said.

Mr. Bailey served as chairman of the City Council’s Civic Activities, License and Permits, and Public Services committees during his tenure as an alderman. He was the head of the Recreation Board for two years. He bested candidates Peter Bianco, John Cannon and William Czjakowski in the four-way 1973 mayoral election, and was re-elected in 1977.

As mayor, Mr. Bailey doubled the size of the Police Department and significantly increased the amount of employees in the public works department. He started the city’s road program in 1973, alleviating flooding problems in the city, partly from the Navajo Creek. The city purchased park property at 123rd Street and 73rd Court during his regime. Mr. Bailey was instrumental in the purchase of the existing City Hall property from Nicor Gas, longtime resident Tom Stuchly said.

Mr. Bailey was mayor when the Navajo Hills subdivision was being created as well as the Palos Pines and the southern portion of Westgate.

“I remember him for his good humor, resolve and dedication to doing the right thing, not always the popular thing,” longtime resident and former alderman Jim Pasquinelli said. “He is now in the company of Whitey, Gene, George, Herb and Z Erol, who served with him. The city owes him a debt of gratitude ... I know I do.” Z Erol Smith was the first mayor of Palos Heights.

Longtime neighbor Ed Beaulieu remembered Mr. Bailey fighting for the Westgate Homeowner’s Association to block a developer from constructing a medical building on 127th Street by 70th Avenue. He was a large voice in getting the project shut down, then helped form a special district there that resulted in the development of townhouses instead, Beaulieu said.

“He was a good mayor, a good alderman and a good friend who will be missed,” Beaulieu said.

Mr. Bailey served two years as a member of the Legislative Committee of the Illinois Municipal League and was a board member for one year for the Cook-DuPage County Health Systems Agency.

Cynthia Mikos said her father worked all the time and was dedicated to helping Palos Heights. He was a longtime salesman before he opened a number of small businesses. He owned a small sports cards store and a dollar store. He operated a small business selling baseball hats up to his final days.

Mr. Bailey served in the Navy for five years, stationed in Oregon, and received an honorable discharge.

Mr. Bailey was a graduate of St. Ignatius High School and attended two years of college at Northwestern University.

Mr. Bailey is survived by his wife, Dolores; son, Tom; daughters, Cynthia and Michele; four grandchildren and one great grandchild.

A funeral Mass was offered Oct. 29 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Hudson, Fla.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Diabetes Foundation or Heart Association.