Evelyn Vita Bailey
10/27/1946 — 07/13/2022
Webster, New York
Evelyn Bailey, a tireless advocate and leader for the LGBTQ community in Rochester, NY died on July 13, 2022. She is known as the “Historian and Archivist of the Rochester LGBTQ Community.”
Her proudest/loudest accomplishment was archiving Rochester, NY gay history. She did this by conducting oral histories, producing the documentary Shoulders to Stand On, promoting the digitizing of the Empty Closet Newspaper and the New Women’s Times, creating the Rainbow Dialogues and founding The Evelyn Bailey Shoulders to Stand On Endowed Fund at the Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library.
Evelyn’s life was eclectic and interesting:
She graduated from State College, Boston in 1968 and received a MED in Counseling from Brockport.
Following her early Catholic faith, she entered the Order of the Cenacle, where she served from 1972-1978. She came out as a lesbian in 1978 and began a lifelong dedication to living her true self. That included fighting for the rights of others in the LGBTQ community. From 1978 – 1996 she was a Math Teacher at Aquinas Institute.
In 1996 she purchased and ran her company, Professional Tutoring Service, closing it just weeks ago.
Evelyn was “Boston Irish”, something she never forgot and never gave up. Her Boston accent was strong and pronounced throughout her lifetime. She was so proud of that accent. Her dry humor and wit were legendary.
Evelyn had an uncanny knack of inspiring people to “see it her way” in spite of any hesitation on their part!
It was the key to her success in bringing unlikely individuals and groups together for a common purpose.
She also used it brilliantly to raise money for her major projects: Shoulders to Stand On, Rainbow Dialogues, and the Sue Cowell Scholarship Fund. She was a prolific grant writer and wringer of wallets. She was fearless about asking people for money.
Over the course of her life in activism, Evelyn was involved in every aspect of Gay life. She volunteered, chaired, and sat on the boards of all of the major and minor Gay Rights organizations, commissions and projects. She amassed a portfolio of awards and honors including the Susan B. Anthony Champion Award (2022), Empire State Pride Agenda Community Service Award (2014); American Association of University Women Community Leadership Award in Education (2014), Bernhardt Annual Archives Award for Excellence in Documenting NY’s History (2016). In June 2022 both the County of Monroe and The City of Rochester proclaimed her the official archivist of LGBTQ History in the Rochester Region.
She is predeceased by her parents: Ethel R. Alemi Bailey and John Richard Bailey and her brother, Richard Harold Bailey. Surviving her are her cousins: Vita Loiacano and Vita Berry; Vita’s Loiacano’s children Susan (Brad) Antoniazzi; Paul (Maryellen) Loiacano and Steven (Michelle) Loiacano and her cat, Silver
Also surviving are Evelyn’s former partners, Claire Parker and Lynn Varricchio; daughter Samantha Berrios; Grandsons: Anthony and Dominic Varricchio, Humberto and Nicholas Berrios: Great Grand Children: Mia, Lettie, Aubrianna, Amina, Neo. She is also survived by her business assistant, Wanda Barber.
There are legions LGBTQ community members, friends and supporters who mourn, miss and are forever grateful to have known her and benefited from her work. She is especially loved and admired by her longtime lesbian sisters and gay brothers, whom she considered family.
Evelyn had a deep love for horses and owned Brandy and TD. She rode for many years with a cadre of wild women.
Her friends and family would like to thank her caring UR Wilmot Cancer Institute team: Dr. Karen Mustain, Dr. Richard Dunne, Dr. Nicole Bubie and Suelynn Richards.
Her Life Celebration will be held on Sunday, July 24, 2022, 2-4 pm, Rochester Riverside Convention Center.
Gifts in Evelyn’s memory may be made to The Evelyn Bailey Shoulders to Stand On Endowed Fund at the Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library at www.ffrpl.org