By: Peter Lund
Harold Handley was Redeemer’s rector when Fred and Mary Bailey arrived in 1955. Mary, a cradle Episcopalian, immediately became involved with the pre-kindergarten children, teaching them to sing. Fred soon joined the choir. His mother had been a supply organist.
In those days, classical music station WCRB held an annual fundraising auction. One year, a winning bid was made for a special performance on the Boston Symphony Hall organ (5,134 pipes). With choir director organist Gerald Weale, the choir journeyed to Boston, where he was offered the opportunity to play the Aeolian-Skinner instrument. His selection, Fred’s favorite, the Toccata from the 5th organ symphony of Charles-Marie Widor, a challenging piece.
When Chris King was organist and choir director the choir performed Mozart’s Requiem and, with the choir of Concord’s Trinity Church, performed Hayden’s ‘Honorary Mass at Washington, DC’s National Cathedral and also in a Catholic church in Baltimore. The joint choir numbered 20-25 voices representing all ages, ‘Good young voices coupled with more mature voices,” said Fred. He continued as a loyal choir member for decades.
Not long after being elected to the Vestry, Fred was approached to assume the junior warden position. One small problem was that he was not a baptized Episcopalian. Rev. Handley said, “Meet me at the Cathedral in Boston on Thursday noon, and we’ll deal with that situation.” Bob Bittenbender, then senior warden, died within the year, and Fred followed in his much-admired footsteps. First challenge was to find a successor to the soon-retiring Rev. Handley, rector since 1939.
Beginning in 1969, Fred was also a member of the Board of Selectmen for nine years. This was a time when then there were many demonstrations against the Vietnam War. On Memorial Day weekend 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War, led by John Kerry, proposed a demonstration on the Lexington Battle Green. The Board of Selectmen voted to deny the permit. Lexington residents swarmed onto the Green for debate and discussion. When the police ordered them to disburse, 458 veterans and townspeople refused and were subsequently arrested. They were each fined $5.00 in Concord District Court for disobeying a town bylaw.
Professionally, Fred graduated from MIT, worked for Caterpillar and the National Research Council before joining a firm, which ultimately became a part of Teledyne Technologies. In addition to being president of that company, he served as Treasurer and President of the Society of Experimental Mechanics, Trustee of Symmes Arlington Hospital, and trustee and chairman of the board of Trustees of Brookhaven.
A recent article in the Brookhaven newsletter quoted Fred, ” I had always felt that we had an obligation to pitch in and help keep things rolling particularly in areas in which our skills were applicable.” Amen.