Bailey Williams loved Corinth.
It was that love for his hometown that drove the accomplished real estate agent and developer in everything he did, friends and family recalled, whether playing a vital role in the growth and development of the community and industry or giving of his time in support of civic clubs and community organizations.
“He genuinely loved Corinth. He would say, ‘I feel sorry for people that don’t live here. They don’t know what they’re missing,” said his son and business partner, Robert Williams.
The elder Williams died January 7 at the age of 84, but his legacy of hard work and dedication to the community lives on.
“Bailey was the brightest star of an ambassadorship,” said Corinth Mayor Tommy Irwin. “Bailey may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.”
The real estate company Williams founded, Bailey Williams Realty, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020 when he was honored by the City of Corinth Board of Mayor and Aldermen with a key to the city.
His son said his father’s belief in hard work and community goes back to his childhood as he learned from his own father, Dr. Fayette Williams who was also active in the community and expected his children to work hard for themselves. As a young man, he spent summers planting pine trees and in eighth grade opened his first business, a popcorn stand on Franklin Street downtown.
Bailey Williams’ Realty was born in 1970, but its roots go back a bit farther. The young entrepreneur began his career in insurance after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from the University of Mississippi and attending law school there for two and a half years.
He began working for his great uncle, Harry Lee Williams’ insurance agency, before going to work briefly for another company. When that company wanted to move him to their Chicago office, Robert said his father quickly decided the cold winter there was not for him.
In 1968 he started Bailey Williams Insurance and two years later he added Bailey Williams Realty. In the 1970s and ’80s, he also operated Bailey Williams Builders, building homes throughout the region with his partner. He got out of the insurance business himself around 10 years ago but continued his love of real estate and development.
“He just loved Corinth. He loved being here and he could sell the community to anybody that was thinking of moving to Corinth,” said his son.
Through the years Williams developed or co-developed countless subdivisions including Creekwood, Deer Park, The Oaks, Shadowood, Cedar Creek, Dogwood Park, Pickwick Road Estates, Meadowbrook, and Beauregard Park subdivisions in Corinth and Alcorn County, as well as Elk’s Landing, Short Coleman, and Coleman Park subdivisions, and Lakecrest Condos in Tishomingo County.
He was also heavily involved in industrial recruitment and development including playing important roles in the recruitment of Kimberly Clark, Caterpillar, and other vital industries.
Longtime friend Terry Cartwright said Williams was someone who simply loved his hometown and wanted to see everyone succeed.
“He wanted Corinth to be a better place to live and grow up and raise kids,” said Cartwright.
The retired banker, who grew up in nearby Booneville with Williams’ wife, Gloria, said his friend was the kind of person who would help anyone and truly wanted to see the people around him succeed. He recalled numerous times through the years he helped him in business and in life.
“Bailey was just simply a fine man,” said Cartwright.
Robert said his father’s love for the community extended far beyond business and development. He was active in the Corinth Rotary Club and enjoyed volunteering at the AMEN Food Pantry and the Lighthouse Foundation among many other endeavors. He said his father taught by example that helping others helps everyone.
Williams also loved his church, First Presbyterian Church of Corinth, where he served as Elder Emeritus. He could frequently be found encouraging people to join them on Sunday morning.
“He literally invited everybody he showed a house to join our church or come and visit,” said Robert.
The mayor said Williams always found something good in anyone his life crossed paths with.
“He always found something good about everyone. I never heard him say anything unkind about anyone,” he said.