Joseph & Bernice Gilman Baily

Joseph and Bernice Baily

Worth an estimated $1.8 million, the bequest of Joseph and Bernice Baily in 1995, was then the largest single private gift ever given to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

Joseph Baily, a life-long Spokane resident, began working for the Spokesman-Review in 1936 after receiving a degree in journalism from Stanford University. He became the newspaper’s Sunday editor before retiring in 1968. During World War II, he was an editor for the Mediterranean edition of Stars and Stripes.

Bernice Baily came to Spokane from Boston at the age of four. Her father worked for the newly developing telephone industry. Missing her childhood home and friends, she soon became enamored with the zoo at Manito Park. Long before meeting Joseph, Bernice developed friendships with many of the zoo employees, especially the caretaker for the bears. Against the rules, the caretaker would allow Bernice into the cages to help mother the young cubs. According to Bernice, it was a most joyous time of her life.

Over the years though, the zoo fell into disrepair. The decision was made to close the exhibits. Those animals that could not be placed in other zoos were destroyed. Among those killed were some of the bears. It was a personal tragedy that brought tears to the eyes of Bernice when she describes it.

Bernice went on to graduate from high school and attend business college. She later worked as a legal secretary for a prominent Spokane law firm.

In 1952, Bernice and Joseph were introduced to each other, after a WSU - UW football game. Joseph recalls returning to his apartment and playing Chinese checkers with Bernice that evening. Within the year, the couple was married.

The Baily’s gift came to WSU through the couple's attorney, who recognized their desire to give a significant portion of their estate to further animal health and well-being. It just so happened that the elder law attorney knew Spokane veterinarian Roger Harder (’61 DVM) and his wife Orene. They had discussed such gifts when Roger needed to settle his father's estate.

After contacting the college, the attorney and the Bailys decided the bequest could best be used in the Center for the Study of Animal Well-Being.

"We're happy to give this gift to ensure that the best interests of animals remain the focus of veterinary medicine forever," said the reserved Joseph.

Washington State University