He was the son-in-law of Dr. and Mrs. W.T. Wilkening, who lived in Fort Scott from around 1918 to the early 1960s.
Born in Ashland, Ky., July 25, 1921, Vernon was the oldest of three boys. His parents were Vernon C. Bailey and Jane Preston Bailey. The family moved often during his early years.
He graduated from Huntington High School and attended Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va. When the family moved to Evanston, Ill., he transferred to Northwestern University.
At the beginning of World War II, he joined the Army and served in the U.S. Signal Corps in France and Germany. He was honorably discharged from the Army and returned to Northwestern where he met Katie, the love of his life.
Graduating with a bachelors of science degree in June of 1947, he found his first job in Kansas City with Great Lakes Pipeline Co. Kathryn Wilkening graduated from Northwestern in June of 1948, and they were married in the First Presbyterian Church in Fort Scott, Sept. 25 the same year. Three little girls were born during the five years they lived in Kansas City. Vernon worked as office manager for Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance. A friend encouraged him to work for Avon Products Inc., and this led to a 30-year career which took the family to New York.
He was a top sales promotion executive and wrote the campaign bulletin which was the blueprint for each three-week sales period. He worked in branch operations, and his skills and knowledge touched many operations people and indirectly many thousand Avon representatives.
During the last seven years he went to the foreign branches, at their invitation, to problem solve. If the task involved extended travel, Katie was able to join him there.
In New York, they were active members of Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale. Vernon was a member of the Masonic Lodge in Hartsdale. He served as District Deputy Grand Master of the Westchester Putnam District representing the Grand Master of the state of New York.
They retired to Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1985 and have been active members of Valley Presbyterian Church. Vernon loved time with family and friends, travel, gardening, photography, computers, writing, reading, cooking and dancing.
His parents and two brothers preceded him in death.
Survivors include his wife, Katie; daughters, Janet Bailey Beirne, Folsom, Calif., Karen and Michael Cahall, Pittsburgh, Pa., and the Rev. Linda Bailey; and six grandchildren.
A Service of Affirmation of Faith and a celebration of his life was held at Valley Presbyterian Church, 6947 E. McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, Ariz., 85253 on Saturday, July 21, at 2 p.m. in the sanctuary.
Memorial gifts may be made to Valley Presbyterian Foundation at Valley Presbyterian Church or to a charity of your choice.