Former Kettering schools leader dies; helped lead civic, arts groups for decades

KETTERING — George Bayless Jr. is remembered for more than 60 years of community service and leadership, including with Holiday at the Home, the Kettering board of education and the area’s regional transit authority board.

The Fairmont High School graduate died Jan. 17 at age 85. A memorial service is planned March 6.

“Kettering lost a great supporter of our schools, our community and Holiday at Home,” the organization that plans the city’s traditional Labor Day weekend celebration said on its Facebook page.

Bayless was president of Holiday at Home in 1962 — later being honored as its grand marshal — and was elected to four terms on the Kettering school board, serving as its leader before opting not to run in 2017.

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In the decades in between, he also headed the RTA board, the President’s Club of Dayton and served on the Miami Valley Military Affairs Association board. Bayless was also on the Kettering Arts Council and spent more than 20 years on what is now the Miami Valley Communications Council, according to his obituary.

“He was one of Kettering’s finest citizens and he will be missed,” said Mayor Peggy Lehner.

As a Fairmont student before graduating in 1955, Bayless played the French horn and later was a member of the NCR Band, the Dayton Municipal Band, the Kettering Civic Band, and the Sinclair College Community Concert Band.

He was an ardent supporter of expanding the Fairmont performing arts wing and in 2021 was named to the inaugural class of the Kettering City Schools Performing Arts Hall of Fame, his obituary states.

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“We have heard from literally hundreds of people who were touched by Mr. Bayless’s dedication and commitment to KCS students, staff and — as everyone knows — all things ‘Kettering Music’,” district Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart wrote after hearing of his passing.

Bayless was born Feb. 13, 1937, in Newark, Ohio. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Denison University in 1959 and joined the Gem City Building and Loan Association. In 1972, he was named a Gem Savings branch manager and led the opening of its downtown Dayton headquarters before retiring in July 1998.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Charlene Hagberg Bayless, two daughters, Rebecca B. Theobald (Chuck) of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Laura A. Bayless (John Lohmann) of Fitchburg, Mass.; and several other relatives.

The family will receive visitors at 10 a.m. March 6 with a memorial service at 11 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 125 N Wilkinson St., Dayton.

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