Home GRCC Board of Trustees Community leader and GRCC Board member, Deb Bailey, dies

Community leader and GRCC Board member, Deb Bailey, dies

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The late GRCC Board of Trustees member and co-founder of Gilda's Club Deb Bailey (photo courtesy GRCC Communications Department).

Grand Rapids Community College is mourning the loss of Trustee Deb Bailey. She died Monday morning from complications with cancer, a representative of Steelcase said in a statement.

Bailey was a Grand Rapids Junior College alumna and has served on the Board of Trustees since 2013. She was elected to a six-year term in 2015. GRCC chairperson David Koetje remembers Bailey for her dedication to the college and the community. 

“Deb had great compassion and always put the needs of the students first,” Koetje said in a statement. “She was focused on supporting our students, and had a deep appreciation for our faculty and employees and for everyone who worked in higher education. She will be deeply missed, but also long remembered.”

Co-founder of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, Bailey received the Valiant Victor Award from West Michigan Woman’s magazine last year for her strength in fighting breast cancer and remarkable work in the Greater Grand Rapids community. 

“Our GRCC family is devastated by the loss of someone who was – and will remain – a shining example of the impact this college can have on a person and a community,” GRCC President Bill Pink stated. “Deb Bailey was as kind as she was smart, passionate as she was brave. Her work touched many people, and we are all better for it. That’s a tremendous legacy, and the GRCC family will greatly miss Deb Bailey.”

Following her academic career at GRCC, Bailey earned a bachelor’s degree in English, communications, and education and a master’s degree in counseling from Western Michigan University. Additionally, she has a master’s in management from Aquinas College. 

Bailey was the former director of corporate relations at Steelcase, Inc., after retiring in 2018.  She served on the boards of the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation, Hospice of Michigan, St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. She also co-chaired the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation’s “A Broader Vision” campaign in 2019. 

Named one of the 25 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal, Bailey has received numerous awards from community organizations as dedicated a great deal of time to advancing the Grand Rapids Area.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 3:34 p.m. on April 28 to include the cause of death.