By JEANNE MAY
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Roger A. Bailey, who helped start
the Dally in the Alley
street fair and led hundreds of substance abusers to conquer their
demons, died of a heart attack Monday at Beaumont Hospital in Royal
He was 60 and lived in Royal Oak.
His wide-ranging life story - which included preaching, protest
marches and digging at an archaeological site - began in Detroit,
where he was born during World War II. His father was in the army,
so his mother took him to her parent's home in Bonanza, Ark for his
first few years.
At war's end, his returned to Michigan, grew up in what is now East
Pointe and graduated from East Detroit High School. Then he was off
to the Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary in McKenzie,
Before he was 20, he was preaching in the summertime, sometimes
being paid for his services with a chicken dinner.
But the life of a preacher was not for him, in the late 1960's, he
returned to Detroit and served with the Volunteers in Service to
America (VISTA), working for poor people in the Cass Corridor. He
also protested the Vietnam War. "He stepped in front of a nun on
purpose and took a punch meant for her during a march on the
Ambassador Bridge," his wife, Carolyn Allen said.
He and his wife helped found the
Dalley in the Alley, a
North Cass Avenue fair that raises money for community projects and
is now in its 26th year.
At the same time, he bought Bonnie's University Pizzeria on Cass and
ran it for a number of years.
He also helped start the Detroit Classic and Country Blues Society,
where mentored comic-book artist Don Simpson and bluesman Robert
Then he went back to school, studying two years at Wayne County
Community College and two at Wayne State University, majoring in
He quit two classes short of a degree when his Spanish class
Undaunted, he spent the summer of 1985 working at St. Ignace,
digging at the site of Pere Marquette's mission to the Huron
Indians. He was fascinated with American Indian lore. His
great-grandfather Speckled Bird was an Oklahoma outlaw who had a
string of horses he would sell, steal back, then sell again.
Mr. Baily returned to Detroit and went to work as a substance abuse
councelor, flrst at the Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center, then at
the Eastwood Clinic, where he worked at the time of his death.
He had been a recovering alcoholic for 32 years and spoke regularly
to Alcoholics Anonymous groups across the area.
Besides his wife of 28 years, survivors include three sons, Geoffrey
and David Bailey and Jason Allen; two grandchildren; his mother,
Thelma Bailey, and two sisters.
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