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David Bailey | Musician leaves legacy of living life to fullest
Performer who sang about living life to the fullest dies in Charlottesville

 Former Stafford County resident David Bailey (right), with his children Kelcey and Cameron, died Oct. 2 after battling brain cancer for 14 years.
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Date published: 10/11/2010


Doctors gave him six months to live.

David Bailey went home and defiantly wrote a song called "Live Forever," about the doctor's prediction.

And don't you know: I'm going to live forever

The software marketing consultant took the diagnosis as a chance to live, quitting his day job to write and sing songs. And for 14 years, Bailey offered the hope of living forever, while working at the frenetic pace of one who knew life could end tomorrow.

He recorded 23 albums, wrote hundreds of songs and performed around the world.

Some dubbed him "the hope guy."

On Oct. 2, 14 years after doctors pronounced the grim prediction, Bailey died from brain cancer.

But as his loved ones plan a memorial concert for Tuesday, Oct. 19, they say Bailey will live forever through his music and the lives he's touched.

"He'll continue on through his CDs and those kinds of things," said the Rev. Carson Rhyne, one of Bailey's former pastors. "But I think that a big part of his legacy will be that there's a tomorrow, there's a hope, don't let something like a brain tumor get you down."


Bailey was living in Stafford County with his wife, Leslie, and two young children when the headaches started. At first, he chalked the pain up to the stress of the corporate world.

But the pain grew unbearable, and he passed out. Leslie drove him to the hospital, and two days later doctors removed a tumor the size of a baseball.

Within months, a second tumor grew. Bailey had glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.

"His diagnosis was exceedingly grim," Leslie said.

Doctors told him to put his affairs in order.

The couple, both lifelong Presbyterians, relied on their Christian faith to get them through the turmoil.

At one point, Bailey grew angry with God. He went for a walk, shouting "Why me?" to the heavens.

Ten years later, Bailey described his feelings: "It wasn't a bad question, just a useless one. I realized that even if I knew, it wouldn't change what was important, namely: What was I going to do with the time I have? It was an easy change, not 'Why?' but 'What now?'"

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David Bailey's family and friends will hold a memorial service and concert Oct. 19 at Meadows Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville. The memorial will feature performances by Bailey's son, Cameron, and close friend Donny Holcombe. Bailey's daughter, Kelcey, suggests guests wear tie-dye.

David M. Bailey was born in Beirut to Kenneth and Ethel Bailey, Presbyterian missionaries. He attended Grove City College, where he met his wife, Leslie, while touring with the choir. David worked with computers, then became a professional musician. He is survived by his wife and two children, Kelcey, a college freshman, and Cameron, a high school junior. He has recorded 23 albums, but efforts are under way to create a final CD of songs Bailey recorded in the past year. For details on Bailey's work, visit davidmbailey.com.

--Amy Flowers Umble