Alan Marsh Bailey
1938 - 2003
by Renee M. Clary
from Geological Society of America's memorial

Alan Bailey, long-time TSOP member, passed away July 31, 2003. He was 64 and had taught at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette since 1981.

At funeral services, Alan Bailey was eulogized effectively as a man who had “more than his share of Midwestern reserve.” Yet, behind the reserve resided a methodical, meticulous, and ethical geoscientist who became a cornerstone in the Geology Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, his academic home from 1981 until his death.

Alan received his B.A. from the University of Iowa in 1962, his M.S. from Michigan State University in 1967, and his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1970.

While at Michigan State University, he served as a research and teaching assistant. Upon completion of his Ph.D., Alan served as a research associate at Vanderbilt University before accepting an associate professorship of geology at Marshall University. Alan left Marshall in 1981, and following a brief stint at the University of Kentucky as a research associate, joined the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (formerly the University of Southwestern Louisiana) as an associate professor of geology in August 1981.

Alan was appointed a full professor of geology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1990, and was named the recipient of the Hensarling Endowed Professorship in Geology from 1990 until 1995. In 1995, he became the McNamara Endowed Professor of Geology, a title and honor he retained until his death. Alan was the recipient of the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists (SEPM—Society for Sedimentary Geology) Best Paper Award (with Kosters) at the 1983 annual meeting of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies (GCAGS), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Excellence in Presentation Award (with Kosters) at the 1983 AAPG annual meeting, and a third place award for the SEPM Best Paper Award (with Roberts and Kuecher) at the 1995 annual meeting of GCAGS.

Alan’s interests and areas of specialization included the chemistry and mineralogy of recent sediments (particularly organic-rich, fine-grained sediments), diagenetic reactions, and the geochemistry of sedimentary rocks. He was a diligent scientist who became immersed within his research. He established and became the director of the X-Ray Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and often spent numerous hours analyzing samples and tweaking his X-ray diffractometers. During official university holidays when the Geology Department’s halls were practically empty, Alan usually could be found in the X-Ray Center or his geochemistry laboratory. He analyzed samples and interpreted data vigilantly; his labs, filled with carefully boxed and annotated samples, reflected the research projects and progression of his career. Alan contributed many important papers and abstracts to his discipline, and he often worked with other well-known researchers, including Art Cohen, Harry Roberts, and Elizabeth Kosters.

Alan was an active member of the Geological Society of America, as well as the
Mineralogical Society of America, the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, the Clay Minerals Society, the Society for Organic Petrology, the Lafayette Geological Society, the Geochemical Division of the American Chemical Society, and the Geochemical Society.

Alan wrote many of the proposals that brought Louisiana Board of Regents Fellowships to the Geology Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Throughout the years, seven students were successfully funded for graduate study in Geology at the university. As the second recipient of the Board of Regents Fellowship, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study under Alan Bailey.

Alan served as the director for ten masters students’ theses. He demonstrated his famous
scientific curiosity and “leave-no-stone-unturned” approach to his graduate students. Alan
was famous for demanding precision in research and the maintenance of an impeccably clean laboratory environment. His superb mineral collection was well known, since he often brought outstanding specimens to his mineralogy and geochemistry classes to share with students. Alan genuinely cared whether students in his classes learned the important concepts, and he always found time to further explain difficult information.

Alan was stoic and uncomplaining, so much so that no one in the Geology Department
suspected the seriousness of his health problems. Upon entering his office after his death, I was surprised and touched by the array of posted notes clinging to the shelves: Alan made sure that those students and colleagues he left behind might find an easier time locating his relevant data and information. Alan Bailey is survived by his wife Karen, numerous colleagues, students, and friends. He is, and will continue to be, sorely missed by all who knew him and had the privilege of working with him.