Thousands pay their respects to Judge D'Army Bailey - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Thousands pay their respects to Judge D'Army Bailey

(Source: WMC Action News 5 Archives) (Source: WMC Action News 5 Archives)

Thousands paid their respects to Judge D'Army Bailey at his homegoing service at Mississippi Boulevard Church Saturday.

The service began at 12 p.m. Bailey was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery. 

Bailey died last weekend after a battle with cancer. 

Several prominent figures spoke, including former President Bill Clinton, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, and a host of judges and family friends.

His homegoing service followed his visitation at the National Civil Rights Museum, which happened Friday.

Judge D'Army Bailey's motorcade pulled up next to a line of people waiting for his visitation.

First in line was Bailey's neighbor, Leonora Bishop.

"It hurt me something awful," Bishop said. "He was such a kind, friendly person. I just thought the world of him."

Family members, loved ones, and out-of-town visitors alike were stirred by emotion outside the National Civil Rights Museum as they honored the museum's founder.

"I'm just moved and grateful and blessed," Fresno resident Michelle Olsen said.

One visitor, Christopher Walsh, said Bailey had a profound impact on him.

"I was just passing out roses," Walsh recalled. "He told me, 'Keep doing what you're doing, son. Our city needs love.' I kept on showing the love, and and I'm still doing it today."

NCRM President Terri Lee Freeman and others called the visitation a fitting farewell.

"This place was going to be sold on an auction block--and had he not raised the initial capital, we would not be standing here," Freeman said.

"It was beautiful," SisterReach Founder Cherisse Scott added. "The flower arrangements were beautiful. The one thing I said was, 'Thank you.' Because it's not every day you get a chance to live alongside a legend."

Former President Bill Clinton spoke at the funeral Saturday. He told a packed church that he and D'Army Bailey were long-time friends and when Bailey held a dedication for the National Civil Rights Museum in 1991, he was there.

"The thing I found interesting about him, was that he was comfortable with different kinds of people," Clinton said.

That is how many described Bailey, as a man who could walk with anyone, but not lose the common touch.

"He lived to be the best son, brother, loving husband, son, father, friend, and humanitarian that any man could be," long-time friend Aubrey Howard said.

"Well I think that D'Army's fire is unique because he had more of an international appeal, and he had a finely developed personality to where he could be at the White House, he could be at a palace, he could be on a beach and make an impression," another long-time friend Julian Bolton said.

Others remembered his presence in court.

"He loved a hot debate and a cold courtroom, and he inspired me in so many ways and so many other people. And I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today without him," said Kitty Bridges, a former law clerk for Judge Bailey.

Bailey's brother Walter was there to thank the president and man others in the community for supporting the family during their time of grief and sharing their memories of D'Army's life.

Memories that Bailey's friends and family hope will continue forever.

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