One of the most revered and respected names in the history of island is Bailey, whose family founded the Sanibel Packing Company in 1899, which today is still considered one of the island's top gathering places. The business, now known as Bailey's General Store, was originated by Frank Bailey before being passed along to his sons - John, Francis and Sam.
Throughout his life, Sam Bailey grew up on Sanibel with a firm belief in helping his fellow islanders in need and doing what is right for the community. Although he did leave the island for academic and athletic pursuits, becoming a four-sport star at the University of Georgia prior to a brief stint playing pro football, he returned to his home state as a coach - and eventually the athletic director - at the University of Tampa.
However, Sanibel kept calling Sam back home.
Since returning to the island on a full-time basis, Sam and the Bailey family have become leaders in the community through their volunteerism and philanthropic endeavors; they have donated money, land and/or in-kind services to a myriad of local charitable groups and organizations, including The Sanibel School, CROW, BIG Arts, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, F.I.S.H., Sanibel Community Association... the list goes on and on.
But Sam Bailey still has at least one more dream that he'd like to fulfill: bringing a multi-faceted medical facility to the island.
Earlier this week, the first step toward that dream was made when the Planning Commission heard a request for a development permit application submitted by the Samuel M. Bailey Trust. Bailey, working in cooperation with Dr. John Frizzell, is seeking to construct a pair of buildings - directly across from Bailey Plaza on Tarpon Bay Road - that will house medical offices for a variety of specialists, as well as a blood laboratory and X-ray facility.
Currently, there is no facility on Sanibel to have blood work done or X-rays taken. That is precisely why Bailey would like to help bring such services to his fellow islanders. In fact, sources have indicated that Sam actually turned down a higher offer for the 2.4 acre parcel from a restaurant developer because he considers this medical facility a "greater need for our community."
We applaud Sam Bailey for his convictions as well as his long-standing dedication to island causes, like bringing much-needed medical specialists to Sanibel. Although the application is still in the early stages, and we still don't know exactly which services will ultimately be offered at the facility, but we have to applaud the man for sticking to his beliefs.
And following his dreams.
- Reporter editorial