Vivian C. “Millie” Bailey’s Legacy: WWII Veteran, Civil Servant & Fundraiser

Vivian C. “Millie” Bailey, was an American World War II veteran, civil servant, and volunteer. She was a fundraiser for education, health, and military service personnel. Bailey was one of the first African American officers in the Women’s Army Corps and served as a commander of the Women’s Colored Detachment. Bailey was a division director in the Social Security Administration.

She was born on February 3, 1918, in Washington D.C. and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Millie’s remarkable journey began when she graduated as the valedictorian of Booker T. Washington High School. After eight years working as a stenographer and medical records clerk in Tulsa, she joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in December 1942, later known as the Women’s Army Corps. She later served as a commander of the all-female detachment before being selected to attend the Adjutant General School Officers’ Administration Course. As one of only two Black women in the class, she graduated with outstanding marks and went on to serve for the first time with an unsegregated unit.

Post-war, Millie moved to Chicago and worked for the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration (SSA). In 1970, she and her husband, William “Bill” Harrison Bailey, relocated to Maryland, where Millie continued her work with the SSA. Notably, Millie became a prominent figure in Howard County, drawn to the visionary community of Columbia, which reflected her inclusive worldview.

Upon retiring in 1975 as a Division Director managing over 1,100 employees, Millie’s commitment to service only intensified. Her volunteer work spanned over 50 years, including roles on the Howard County General Hospital Board of Trustees, the Howard County Police Department Citizens Advisory Council, and various governor-appointed positions. Known for her thoroughness and shrewd assessments, Millie’s impact on her community was immeasurable.

A passionate advocate for supporting the next generation, Millie raised funds for in-need elementary schools in Howard County, earning her the title of the children’s “Guardian Angel.” She also initiated the beloved care package program, “Bailey’s Bundles,” sending support to deployed service members. In 2021 alone, Bailey’s Bundles mailed approximately 230 boxes, weighing 1,900 pounds.

Millie’s commitment to community service garnered numerous awards, including Towson University’s “Distinguished Black Marylanders Award” and Maryland State Governor’s Citations. She was a recipient of the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to volunteer service. Her legacy is honored through the Vivian “Millie” Bailey Making a Difference Award and the dedication of various spaces, including the Vivian C. “Millie” and William Harrison Bailey cafeteria at Howard County General Hospital.

Beyond her public service, Millie embraced life with an adventurous spirit. Skydiving at the age of 102, she defied expectations, proving that one can break barriers and try new things at any age. Millie is survived by her niece, Mildred Gayle Blocker, and her loving “adopted family” and cherished friends. Her family expresses gratitude to everyone who shared love and support throughout her remarkable life.

Millie departed peacefully on May 1, 2022, at the age of 104, surrounded by her loving family and friends. Millie’s chosen final resting place is the Calvary Cemetery in Tulsa, Oklahoma, beside her beloved husband, sister, and mother. In honoring Millie’s memory, let us remember her simple challenge: “Even small contributions put together can make a big difference.” To know Millie was to love, admire, and respect a pioneer whose light continues to inspire community leadership and service.


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