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Thelma Elizabeth Easterling Bailey

November 11, 1942 – October 20, 2021


Thelma was a resident of Raleigh, Mississippi.  She was preceded in death by her father James Odis Easterling, mother Doris Merle Whatley Easterling, and son-in-law Dr. Ben Battle Jr.


She is survived by her husband of 59 years, John Anthony Bailey; sons, Arlen Anthony Bailey (Rachel), Jonathan Craig Bailey (Angel), Tracy Gerald Bailey, John Marc Bailey; Grandchildren, Jonathan Craig Bailey, Jr. (Laura Beth), Kayla Nicole Bailey Berry (Carrol), Anthony Brett Bailey, Ryan Chase Norris and Jeremy Norris.

Great GrandChildren; Bryson Bailey, Tyson Bailey, Kristian Berry, and Alyssa Berry; Siblings, James Ray Easterling (Jean), Billy Ray Easterling (Jean), Dorothy Jean Hall, Larry Mike Easterling (Effie) and a host of nephews and nieces.


Thelma was born in Raleigh, Mississippi, November 11, 1942 and attended Raleigh High School.  Her teachers wrote in her senior yearbook, “She may be quiet, but she knows a lot”.  She was a great student that loved to read.  She graduated from Raleigh High School in 1961 and moved to New Orleans where she taught in a private Christian school.  She met her husband, John, at the church where she taught.  They were married February 18, 1962 in Nicholson, Mississippi.  They eventually moved back to Mississippi and started a family.  Thelma and John worked in church ministry for over 50 years.  Thelma was a song leader, Sunday School teacher, and treasurer throughout many of these years. 


She was a graduate of Hinds Jr. College, Raymond, Mississippi and the Academy of Hair Design, Pearl, Mississippi.  She held a Life Insurance License, Barber License, and a Cosmetology License.  Thelma received the award for Business Woman of the Year through the Independent Business Association in 1995. 


She and her husband John owned a construction company for many years and later opened a hardware and building supply store in Raleigh.  Thelma was the contracts manager for the construction company and worked with the building supply in money management.  They retired in 2009 and spent nine years in Cullowhee, North Carolina where they were active members of the Whittier Church of God.  Thelma would occasionally substitute on piano and sing in the choir.  She loved family, travel, friends, and music.  They always supported their children and grandchildren in their perspective ministries. 


Growing up in Raleigh, Thelma attended singing schools during the summer at Salem Baptist Church and learned to read shape notes.  In her 20’s she took piano lessons and learned to read music.  She played piano, guitar, as well as could sight sing anything in the hymnal.  She was a Soprano with a two octave range.  She sang on the radio as a young lady with her family and later sang in various trios.  She could harmonize any part needed.


Thelma was known for being a shopper; she loved to shop, collect, and paint.  She had a collection of over 200 porcelain dolls.  She took art lessons from her cousin Lou Handy and eventually turned their home into an art gallery.  It was not uncommon for her to keep their home decorated for Christmas year round.  She loved Christmas and all the glitz that came along with the season.  She was the matriarch of her family and will be greatly missed.


Family will receive friends on Friday October, 22, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. at New Life Christian Fellowship, 120 Save A Lot Drive, Pearl, MS 39208 with service to follow at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday October 23, 2021.  Interment will be at Easterling Cemetery, Raleigh, Mississippi.


Reverends Shane Silvers and Craig Bailey will be officiating.  Paul Bearers will be Arlen, Craig, Tracy, John Marc, Jonathan, and Brett Bailey.  Colonial Chapel, Magee, Mississippi is assisting with arrangements.  


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