Rita Dillon presented Tom with the Freewheelers Lifetime Membership Award in 2012

Rita Dillon presented Tom with the Freewheelers Lifetime Membership Award in 2012

Former Freewheeler, Tom Bailey passed away on Saturday, March 17, 2018. Tom was the loving husband of Pat Paolone. Tom was the major driving force behind the development of many of our club’s ride maps and cue sheets. He established a standard format and spent many hours preparing the cue sheets and maps we now use. He acted as Tour Leader for many hundreds of our rides over his years in the club. In memory of Tom and other club members who have passed away, the ‘Annual Memorial Ride’ will take place yearly at 9 am on the first Friday in June from Harold Black Park.

Click on the link to read Jodie Ebeling’s (former student) tribute to Tom: Tribute to Tom

The following article by Cheryl.Clock@niagaradailies.com appeared in The St. Catharines Standard on March 26, 2018:

Tom Bailey, a man who had many passions in life, including coaching basketball, founding the Lincoln Leapers and cycling with the Niagara Freewheelers, died on March 17. He was 71.

If he wanted to play on the team he had to learn to spin a basketball on the tip of his finger. And back then, everyone at the former Campden Public School, wanted to be on Mr. Bailey’s team. So Bruce Adams, these days a 50-year-old elementary school teacher in Hamilton, practised. Over and over again. Accepting his task without question. He spent the entire March break of his Grade 5 year spinning balls in his basement. When school resumed, he proudly demonstrated his newly acquired skill to Mr. Bailey. And he made the team. Indeed, Tom Bailey had the entire team spinning balls before each game, a lesson that Adams has since realized is rooted not so much in skills required on the court, but in the game of life. “He taught me that if you want something, go out and work for it and get it,” said Adams. He can still spin a ball.

Tom Bailey died a little more than a week ago, on March 17. He was 71. He spent the last four years of his life at Linhaven nursing home, living with Alzheimer’s disease. The people who knew him best say he embraced several passions in life, always fully, with his heart and soul. He was the teacher who rode his bike to school every day, through rain and snow, more than 20 kilometres one way from Fonthill to Campden. In the winter, he dutifully shovelled off the school’s outdoor basketball court so the kids would have a place to practise. In those days, he drove his team to games in a van he had painted the school colours – burgundy with a gold stripe down the sides. After games, he meandered across the countryside, delivering students back home. “If I didn’t come home from school, my parents knew I was at a game with Mr. Bailey,” said Adams.

It was at Campden that he formed a skipping group that eventually grew into the Lincoln Leapers, the first competitive skipping team in Canada.

Then after retiring, Bailey devoted his time to the Niagara Freewheelers, a bicycle touring club. He was its tour director, leading some 100 rides every season — otherwise known as Tom’s Rides. He organized the club’s route maps and created intricate courses from memory, said Dennis Munn, a friend and the club’s current tour director. Whereas most people would need to consult a map spread across a tabletop, Tom had it all in his head, said Munn. “He could take you down a country road and tell you how many kilometres it would be before you turned left,” he said. “He had it all in his mind’s eye.” And when he rode at the back of the pack, one blast from his trusty whistle meant business. “If you heard that whistle you got yourself in line properly,” said Munn.

It was during a Freewheelers ride some 15 years ago, that he met Pat Paolone, his friend and life partner.” I realized the kindness in Tom’s heart was something I needed in my life,” she said. He always knew everybody’s names and introduced each cyclist at the start of his rides. “People were important to Tom,” said Paolone.” “The grass didn’t matter. The house didn’t matter,” she said. “What mattered to Tom was people.”