BAYLESS, Jr., George H.
Died January 17, 2023 in Kettering, Ohio.
George loved family, community, public transportation, public education, the arts, and Westminster Presbyterian Church.
George was born February 13, 1937, in Newark, Ohio, to the Rev. G. Harold and Elsie Rigg Bayless. He recalled trips to the circus in the early 1940s, following the circus parade and earning admission by helping feed the animals. His enthusiasm for the annual family trip to the American Baptist Assembly at Green Lake in Wisconsin, where his parents staffed the music and drama summer workshop, continued into adulthood, with four generations of Baylesses exploring the grounds of the Christian Writing Center. With his daughters, he organized family camping trips to explore national parks and historic sites and appreciated opportunities to travel abroad, including a trip to Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic to assess the trams being produced for the Dayton regional transit system.
After graduating from Fairmont High School, class of 1955, George earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Denison University in 1959, joining Gem City Building and Loan Association as a teller shortly after wedding his college sweetheart. He served as Sergeant in the States Army Reserve. In 1972, he was named branch manager of the new Third and Gettysburg office of Gem Savings, addressing the needs of an underserved community. Later he administered the opening of the company's iconic I. M. Pei headquarters in downtown Dayton. He retired in July 1998.
George contributed significantly to making his community a better place - his passion was attending meetings. He was a board member of the Miami Valley Military Affairs Association from 1988-1989, the Kettering Arts Council from 1987-1993 and again from 20022008. Following his father's service on the original Kettering Charter Commission, George was an active member of the 1996 Review Committee.
George's commitments to Kettering include a multi-decade relationship with the Kettering Holiday at Home celebration, serving as its third president in 1962, organizing the evening music and fireworks programs, working on numerous committees, and performing for decades as a parade marshal in all types of weather. He was honored to be named Grand Marshal for the 2008 parade. He was also active with his father in the Sertoma Club of Dayton, with its mission of "Service to Mankind", providing leadership in a variety of areas from flipping pancakes at the annual fundraising breakfast to organizing a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, serving as president in 1977 as well as president of the President's Club of Dayton in 1981.
In July 2001 he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Kettering Board of Education and was subsequently elected to four additional terms, serving in a variety of roles. He provided enthusiastic oversight to the reconstruction of several Kettering City Schools buildings and delighted in providing hard hats to his grandchildren to join him on tours of buildings under renovation.
George played French horn throughout high school and college, including in the NCR Band under the baton of Clark Haines. Rehearsals and concerts contributed to the rhythm of his life, playing in the Dayton Municipal Band, the Kettering Civic Band, and the Sinclair College Community Concert Band. He traveled to Colorado, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Vermont to see his children and grandchildren on stage. His participation in the music program in high school was a large part of his identity and development, and, as a school board member, he ensured that opportunity would be available for generations to come through an expanded performing arts wing at Kettering Fairmont High School. In 2021, he was named to the inaugural class of the Kettering City Schools Performing Arts Hall of Fame.
Introduced to rail transportation by his maternal grandfather, George embraced a lifelong enthusiasm for trains, both for their elegant travel opportunities and for their efficiency in moving goods and people in a sustainable manner. He developed a secret skill of hopping freight trains at a young age, admitting to riding as far as Wilmington Pike before hopping his way home. In 1994, George was appointed to the Board of the Miami Valley Regional Transit Authority (now the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority) to represent the City of Kettering, providing leadership as Chairman in 1998 and 1999. He was a vocal supporter of the potential development of light rail transportation in the State of Ohio.
Wishing Kettering to be on the cutting edge of regional 21st century technology, George helped oversee the installation and management of cable and internet services as a member of Miami Valley Cable Council (now the Miami Valley Communications Council) from 2001 to 2023. He hoped that his legacy will be continued reinforcement of intergovernmental communications among cities, and between local governments and members of the community.
George served Westminster Presbyterian Church on the Building and Grounds Committee and as an usher and bus driver.
George is survived by his wife of 63 years, Charlene Hagberg Bayless, two daughters, Rebecca B. Theobald (Chuck) of Colorado Springs, Colorado and Laura A. Bayless (John Lohmann) of Fitchburg, Massachusetts; three grandchildren: Sarah, Andrew (Karen Mardini), and Margaret Theobald; five step-grandchildren: Simon (Halley Bass), Rowen, John, Charlotte, and Soren; his sisters Mary B. Greenlee of Worthington, Ohio, and Elizabeth B. Hoeft of Johnston, Iowa. He is also survived by nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews as well as many cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, and brothers-in-law Douglas Hoeft and David Greenlee.
Thank you to the staff of Kettering Memorial Hospital and The Oaks of West Kettering, who provided kind and skilled care during his final weeks.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Kettering Education Foundation (ketteringeducationfoundation.org/index.php/donate/) in support of Arts Education, Westminster Presbyterian Church in support of the Music Program (westminsterdayton.org/give), or the National Association of Rail Passengers (railpassengers.org).
The family will receive visitors Monday, March 6th, at 10:00 am with a memorial service at 11:00 am at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 125 N Wilkinson Street, Dayton, Ohio.
Condolences may be sent to the family at
BAYLESS, Jr., George H.