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Posted on July 13, 2015 | 10:45 a.m.

Rhea Bailes of Santa Maria, 1927-2015

Source: Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary

Rhea Bailes

Rhea Elaine Bailes, 87, of Santa Maria, Calif., passed away Saturday, June 6, 2015, at her home.

Born and raised in Uniontown, Penn., Rhea met and married her beloved husband, James Baird Bailes, before moving and settling down in Santa Maria in 1960.

Rhea (Mrs. Bailes to her students) worked as a lunch aide for six years before becoming a kindergarten teacher's aide for the Santa Maria-Bonita School District at Arellanes Elementary School. She retired after 34 years of devoted service, but continued as a volunteer at the school. She helped inspire three generations of students in the Santa Maria school system, and considered her work one of her greatest joys and accomplishments.

Devoted to her family, Rhea relocated to different cities because of her husband Jimmy’s military and aerospace background. During all of this, she raised three children, and was a loving grandmother to six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She was one that never knew a stranger, because all those she met would be welcomed as her own.

She had a passion for music that led her to earn the position of second chair violinist in the Santa Maria Symphony Orchestra for 27 years. Her other hobbies included playing Bunco, reading books and swimming. She simply loved life and lived it to the fullest. She loved to travel to far and away places around the world, and some of her adventures included hot air balloon, biplane and glider plane rides in her later years. One of her favorite sayings was, “You can leave the dishes in the sink; they will be there when you get back."

She is survived by her three children, Sharon Kunsman of Palmdale, Calif., and Bruce Bailes and Roger Bailes of Santa Maria; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. A longtime friend of the Bailes family, Marylin Ferguson, is considered as a daughter and an aunt to the family.

She was preceded in death by her husband, James Baird Bailes Jr. (Jimmy), and her first granddaughter, CPO Eileen Jean Kunsman-Hunter, U.S. Navy (retired) of Oak Harbor, Wash.

A Celebration of Life will be held on July 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. You may call her daughter Sharon Kunsman at 661.917.8640) or RSVP to [email protected].

In lieu of flowers, it is requested that a donation be sent to the “Rhea E. Bailes Memorial Fund,” which will support Arellanes Elementary School's Books and Arts Program. Please contact Sharon Kunsman at 661.917.8640 for account information.

Click here to leave a condolence for the family.


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