Long-time Moorhead resident, John Howard Bailey was presented with the Moorhead Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Citizen of the Year Award during Friday’ night’s banquet at the Herman Thigpin Cafeteria on the campus of MDCC.
Bailey is the Delta community’s oldest known citizen at the reported age of 100, with his next birthday celebration just weeks away. The recorded date of Bailey’s birth is July 7, 1918. However, his daughter Lillie Nash said, “According to the courthouse, this is the year that records were recorded so they automatically added five years to anyone’s birth who was recorded that year. This brings his age to 105.”
Bailey, the father of 23 offspring, expressed his joy at receiving such a distinction. “I am thankful to have my strength and health as good as it can be. I thank Jesus that he has allowed me to live as long as I have and I can still take care of my personal needs and think for myself,” said Bailey.
And although he has passed the century mark, he is still fairly active. “I love to fish, to work on cars as a mechanic,” he said.
Bailey is also the recipient of several “first” honors as well. According to his family, he was the first black man to run for mayor of Moorhead, taking on that challenge in 1961.
He then became the town’s first black policeman, and worked at that position from 1962 to 1979 when he became the first black to be employed as a security guard at the then Mississippi Delta Junior College. “I also loved working as a policeman to protect and to serve, said Bailey.
“I appreciate the service award that has been given to me and for straightening out my age,” he said.