Hodges University today announced that it has selected Sanibel Island natives Francis and the late Sam Bailey as the 2011 Luminary Award recipients. The award will be presented at a luncheon on February 3, 2011 at 11am at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort and Spa, and is sponsored by the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company and Sanibel Captive Community Bank.
The Luminary Award recognizes local citizens who personify society’s most valued human characteristics and thus have moved society in a positive way, serving as distinguished examples of the virtues of perseverance, honesty, moral character and charity.
Long before there was a causeway that linked the tiny island to the mainland, Francis and Samuel Bailey, both raised on Sanibel, knew that the island was a special place, and though their lives would take them from the island, they found their way back time and again.
Francis and his younger brother Sam grew up working in the family store founded in 1899, which continues to serve the island community today. They both attended school in a one-room schoolhouse on the island before Francis went to boarding school in Virginia and Sam attended high school in Fort Myers.
After attending the University of Georgia, Sam spent many of his adult years in sports, first as a player for the Boston Yanks football team, then as coach and athletic director at the University of Tampa. After 26 years he returned to his island home, where he was very active in the city's Historical Preservation Committee and local ecological protection efforts. Sam Bailey started the annual “Island’s Night” game at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers and also founded the Sanibel Expo, a showplace for retail businesses on the island. In order to instill island pride in the local high school students, Sam annually gave a $100 check to each Sanibel High School graduate.
He has been awarded a Chamber of Commerce President’s Award and an Outstanding Citizen Award. Both he and Francis have been honored with the Walter Klie Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2009 were named among the 125 influential people in local history. Sam passed away in September of this year.
After attending college and serving in World War II, Francis followed in his father’s footsteps and took over the operation of the family store. In 1965, with the completion of the Sanibel Causeway, Francis moved Bailey’s General Store from its original location to where it sits today, at Tarpon Bay Road and Periwinkle Way.
Along with Porter Goss and others, Francis was instrumental in the formation of the first Sanibel City Council which eventually led to the incorporation of the city. Under his guidance, ordinances were passed that limited unbridled development of the island. To this day, a moratorium that limits buildings to no more than three stories is still in place.
Both of the “Bailey Boys” have worked tirelessly in order to maintain the pristine island setting that they remember as boys growing up there in the 1920’s and ’30’s. They donated eight acres of land on Sanibel-Captiva Road in order for a shell museum to be built on the island. Named after their parents, the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum opened in 1995.
For their outstanding involvement and dedication to our community, and for making significant contributions of leadership and service which have improved and enriched the lives of so many residents of our community, Hodges University is pleased to honor Francis and the late Sam Bailey as its 2011 Luminary Award winners.
The Bailey’s will be formally recognized at a luncheon on Tuesday, February 3, 2011. The event will be held at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott resort and Spa. For further information or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please call 239-938-7826.