Theron Sheldon Bailey

Theron Sheldon Bailey     February 6, 1942 - May 8, 2022

Colonel Theron Sheldon Bailey, United States Air Force (retired), passed away at his home in Fredericksburg, VA on May 8th, 2022. He was 80 years old. Theron was born on February 6th, 1942 in Des Moines, Iowa to his parents Ray V. Bailey and Maxine (Sheldon) Bailey.

Theron was raised in Clarion, Iowa, and he spent many treasured summers at Lake Okoboji throughout his childhood. He was very active in Boy Scouts of America, and he achieved the highest rank of Eagle Scout at the young age of 13. He attended Clarion High School, where he played baseball and football. Theron was also passionate about Clarion High’s chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter, and was awarded the Mr. FBLA award for the state of Iowa. He graduated in 1960.

Theron followed the proud family tradition of attending the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, Iowa, where he was a member of the Air Force ROTC, fencing club, and Delta Upsilon fraternity. He received his undergraduate degree in political science. Theron continued his studies at the U of I in pursuit of a law degree, which he obtained in 1967.

After graduation and admission to the Iowa Bar, Theron was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force (USAF), where he proudly served as a Judge Advocate General for twelve years. He was then assigned to Forbes Air Force Base, in Kansas, and served there for two years as a Trial Prosecutor and Defense Council.

In 1969, the USAF posted Theron to Keflavik, Iceland, and here he served for thirteen months in the dual role of Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) for Air Forces Iceland, and Deputy SJA of the Iceland Defense Force.

In 1970, he was reassigned to Nellis Air Force Base, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here, he served as Chief of Civil Law and Chief of Military Justice until 1972, when he was reposted to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Once in Colorado, Theron served first as Chief of Civil Law, Headquarters Air Defense Command, and then in 1975 he transitioned to join the faculty of the Department of Law at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

After his time at the Air Force Academy, Theron separated from active-duty Air Force in 1979, partly so that he could establish a private law practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and partly so that he could dedicate more time to his love for skiing. He was truly a wonderment to watch coming down the mountain, and he became one of the top amateur ski racers in his age group in the state of Colorado. During this part of his life, Theron remained active in the Air Force Reserve Judge Advocate Program, and was the first reservist to be assigned to a JAG position at the Air Force Academy.

In 1984, Theron met the love of his life, Cherry Kay Lancaster, and her daughter, Lisa. They married in 1990, and Theron formally adopted Lisa in 1994, though she was his daughter in his heart many years before this. Theron was a wonderful husband and father, as well as an eventual beloved grandfather.

In 1990, Theron was competitively selected to voluntarily return to active duty at the Pentagon, Washington D.C., to serve as the Reserve Forces Advisor to the Judge Advocate General of the Air Force, who was a 3 Star General. He felt very fortunate to be selected to extend this four-year tour of duty not once, but twice, as he found this work to be both challenging and rewarding. Theron finally retired from the Air Force in 1999 after a dignified career that spanned thirty-four-and-a-half proud years.

Upon his retirement, Theron settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he became very invested in his hobbies. He had a deep love for animals, and in his time on Earth he dedicated much of his energy to supporting animal rescues and wildlife funds. He was passionate about history and Western culture, and was an avid collector of trains, planes, and Old Western Artifacts. In recent years, Theron enjoyed regularly competing in Western Single Action Shooting Society events, under his alias “The Okoboji Kid.”

Theron is preceded in death by his parents, and many of his treasured kitties (Priscilla, Gracie, Molly, Mattie, Sadie, and Buddy). He is survived by his wife, Cherry Kay Lancaster Bailey; his daughter, Lisa Bailey-Wagner (Allen Wagner); his granddaughter, Bailey Wagner (Zachary Shewmaker); and his grandsons, Nathan Wagner and Travis Wagner. He is also survived by his brother, G. Bryan Bailey (Joanie), his nephews Chad Bailey and Jonathan Bailey (Angela), as well as additional nieces and nephews from the Lancaster family, and several great-nieces and great-nephews. Theron is also survived by his beloved Grey Kitty.

Theron will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date.


Wright County Monitor

P.O. Box 153
107 2nd Avenue N.E.
Clarion, IA 50525
Phone: 515-532-2871
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