Neva Bailey, 72, acclaimed opera singer, pianist, music teacher

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Neva Jean Bailey, nee Brockman, died on April 17, 2014, at Arden Courts in Glen Ellyn. Born on Nov. 5, 1941, in Central City, Nev., she later moved to Atchison, Kansas where she met and married Larry Bailey, who now lives in River Forest. She graduated with a B.A. in Music Education from the University of Kansas, studied voice at the Guild Hall School of Music in London, and received a M.A. in Conducting from Roosevelt University. 

In 1972, she moved to the Oak Park area with her family. A trained dramatic mezzo soprano, Ms. Bailey performed with the Chicago Symphony Choir, the Milwaukee Florentine Opera, the Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago, and the American Women Composers. She also taught at the American Conservatory of Music and the Merit School of Music, played piano in the Michiana Music Trio, and shared her passion for music with her area voice students. In 1983, she was a semi-finalist in the Liederkrantz Wagner competition in New York City. 

She had an enthusiasm for all she did in life, dedicating her time to many causes, including the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing; the League of Women Voters in Oak Park and Michigan's Cass and Berrien counties, becoming chapter president of the latter; and the Arthritis Foundation. She also pursued an interest in photography. 

Neva Bailey is survived by her husband, Larry Bailey; her children, Barbara (Jorg) Schmidt-Bailey and Eric (Gwen) Bailey; her grandsons, Max and Nick Schmidt-Bailey; her siblings, Karry (Judy) and Jorgen (Patricia) Brockman; and her niece and nephew, Kimberly and Kevin. 

A celebration of her life will be held on May 18 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Carleton Hotel in Oak Park. In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, www.theaftd.org or the League of Women Voters at www.lwv.org. 

Reader Comments

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Elizabeth Rexford from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2014 10:04 PM

My sincere sympathy to Neva's family. What a bright and wonderful person! I especially remember the concerts that Neva sang with the Symphony of Oak Park & River Forest. They were splendid!

Marvie Sneegas from Lenexa, Kansas  

Posted: June 29th, 2014 8:36 PM

To Larry and all of Neva's family: I mourn the loss of my dear friend, Neva. Even though years have passed since we have been together, I fondly remember how we spent many days together at the University of Kansas, and I was honored that she was one of my bridesmaids. A very talented and kind lady, one who everyone will miss.

Patti Robertson from Venice, FL  

Posted: May 9th, 2014 11:00 PM

A vibrant, beautiful picture of Neva. I am so blessed to have had her in my life, first as my passionate, extraordinary, compassionate voice instructor at IUSB and then as a very special friend in Michiana who affected not only my life, but the lives of my family, who she became a part of. I miss you and thank you so much for my sweet memories. Love, Patti

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