SANIBEL, Fla. -- On the day the nation celebrates Dads, Sanibel celebrated the man who fathered an island.
Francis Bailey was born in simpler times. When Sanibel was a small, unheard-of, island community. He saw it thrive.
"Francis loved Sanibel," said Porter Goss, the former Sanibel Mayor, CIA Director, and longtime friend of Bailey, "he wore (his love for the island) on his sleeve."
And the community loved Francis. Islanders packed the Bailey Homestead, the home his father built and where Bailey was raised, for a celebration of his life. Bailey passed away on June 8th at the age of 92.
"I'd be very comfortable with having Francis Bailey be the Father of the Sanibel community," said Goss.
The oldest son of one of the pioneer families of Sanibel, Francis Bailey was a pillar on the island.
He returned home from World War II in 1948. Taking over the daily management of Bailey's General Store, which his father opened in 1899.
Francis was also a selfless public servant. He was a founding member of the Lion's Club, a volunteer firefighter and a two-time Mayor. He served in elected office longer than anyone in history of Sanibel.
"It is an end of an era," said Rachel Lammers, the grocery manager at Bailey's General Store.
And in typical Francis Bailey style, he went out not in sadness, but in celebration.
He is survived by his wife of 31 years, June Bailey. Along with his children, grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.