Ms. Elizabeth Bailey of Murrysville, an admired and respected lawyer who actively practiced law for over sixty-eight years, died on January 29, 2016, at the age of 95. Ms. Bailey graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1941 and started her career as an English and History teacher at West View Junior-Senior High. She had a deep desire to learn more and in the summer of 1942, she took graduate courses in English at the University of Chicago. In 1943, she decided to enroll in evening classes at Duquesne University School of Law where she graduated in 1948. She was admitted to practice law on October 9, 1948 and began her career at Lawyer's Title Company.
In 1949, Ms. Bailey joined the law practice of James C. Tallant in Pittsburgh and later in Murrysville, and under his guidance, became an excellent and most trusted attorney state-wide. They practiced together for 46 years until his death in 1994. She was well known for her work in interstate custody matters, and Commonwealth ex rel. Buckner v. Barr, 379 Pa. 9, 101 A.3d 62 (1954), was one of her most well-known cases. She also practiced in the areas of adoption, real estate and estate administration. Ms. Bailey never needed any notes when appearing before the court. She was always prepared. She knew her case. She could recite to the court the metes and bounds of a chain of title by memory. She argued cases at all levels of the court system in Pennsylvania. She drafted thousands of Wills and Deeds.
Ms. Bailey worked until the time of her passing with Walter F. Baczkowski and James W. Creenan at the Murrysville law firm of Creenan & Baczkowski, P.C. She prided herself on her work ethic, her commitment to her clients, and her respect for the law. She demonstrated all that was good in our legal system. She enjoyed most that which she did everyday – help people.
Ms. Bailey was a proud member of the Westmoreland County Bar Association and the Allegheny County Bar Association. She was just the 76th woman admitted to the Allegheny County Bar. In 2008, her peers selected her to speak at the ACBA's event honoring its 50 and 60 year practitioners, and she spoke for the exact time allotted - 7 minutes – without notes. She told the younger 50 year practitioners that the next 10 years of practice would be their best. She noted that the most rewarding part of her career in the law was the opportunity to help others. Duquesne University School of Law selected her as one of three women honored during its Centennial Celebration of Women in the Law in 2011.
Ken Gormley, President-Elect of Duquesne University, reflected that “Elizabeth Bailey was an incredible woman who served as an inspiration to me and thousands of other lawyers in the region. As the oldest living alumna of Duquesne Law School – and the oldest living practitioner in Pennsylvania – Elizabeth embodied the spirit of service to the legal profession with energy, grace, and an unyielding desire to assist fellow citizens, particularly the underserved. Her presence in the legal community will be deeply missed.”
Attorney Jim Creenan remarked that, “It has been an honor and a privilege to work beside Ms. Bailey each day. She helped generations of families during the most important and sometimes difficult phases of their lives. Her clients trusted her sound legal judgment and advice. She was well-respected by the members of the bench and bar for her intelligence and legal acumen. There was no one better than Ms. Bailey.”
Attorney Walt Baczkowski commented that, “Ms. Bailey's outstanding reputation was built upon a foundation of legal ability and ethical practice. The goal was never the fee but the achievement of justice for her client. Ms. Bailey's practice was built solely by word of mouth of her clients. Our firm has lost a tremendous asset and role model.”
Attorney Molly Creenan added, “We all deeply respected Ms. Bailey and her contributions to our profession. She was a wonderful attorney, advocate and mentor. She was well-respected by her peers and everyone in the Murrysville community.”
Attorney Frank Jones, recalled, “Ms. Bailey was a remarkable woman and a credit to our profession. I was proud to practice with her and admired her dedication to her clients."
President Judge Richard E. McCormick, Jr., of the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas, was a long-time friend and stated, "Ms. Elizabeth Bailey was one of the first of her gender and one of the last of those generations of attorneys in Westmoreland County who epitomized a more mannerly and respectful practice of the law. I was always delighted when she visited my chambers, to obtain a signature on a court order, or to visit with her friend, Beth Orbison, my law clerk, because she reminded me of my grandfather and father, and my maiden great aunts. She was a gentlewoman in the best sense of that word, with a quiet, unassuming personality and a great intellect. And she practiced yoga, a marvelous example of her unlimited energy and spirit.”
Ms. Bailey was the last surviving member of her family. She leaves behind many dear friends, her fellow attorneys, and generations of clients.