Berry Highland Memorial

5315 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN


Hugh Adair Bailey

September 13, 1934January 7, 2020
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Hugh Adair Bailey, age 85, passed away on Tuesday January 7, 2020. Born September 13, 1934 in Bristol, VA, he is preceded in death by his wife of 45 years, Ellen Arlene Bailey as well as by his father and mother, John and Marilyde Bailey and brother, John Bailey Jr. He is survived by his children and their spouses, Benjamin and Dawn Bailey, Amy and Sebastien Galtier, Bonnie and Christopher Bowers, and Timothy Bailey, as well as grandchildren Sean, Hunter, Liam, Bailey, Ellen, and Alex.

Hugh received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Berea College and a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics from Indiana University. He worked for 41 years as a graphic designer for the University of Tennessee Publications Service Bureau. After retirement, he devoted himself full-time to his art; he is well-known locally for his whimsical watercolors and pottery which often depicted fanciful animals. Hugh said that nothing teaches humility and patience as much as learning to throw pots on a potter’s wheel, an activity he enjoyed for the past 65 years. Hugh’s life reflects this statement; he was humble, kind, and generous in words and deed.

Hugh was very active in the arts communities in Knoxville, Oak Ridge, Asheville and Chattanooga and was a past President of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and the Knoxville Watercolor Society. He was also a member of the Art Market Gallery, the Appalachian Arts Craft Center, and the Foothills Craft Guild. He was dedicated to keeping traditional Appalachian crafts alive and did annual demonstrations of pottery at the Museum of Appalachia. Hugh regularly donated his artwork to charitable organizations such as the Humane Society of Anderson County, Peninsula Hospital’s Art for Mental Health auction, and the Art of Healing Gallery at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

Hugh taught ceramics classes at Berea College, Indiana University, the Appalachian Arts Craft Center, the Oak Ridge Art Center and others where he introduced several generations of students to the wonders of working with clay, passing along his love of art and his enthusiasm for getting his hands messy in order to create something beautiful. He inspired countless people of all ages to create art.

Hugh was a devoted sports fan, sharing the thrills and tribulations of rooting for the University of Tennessee Volunteers, Indiana University Hoosiers, and San Francisco Giants. He loved classical music and regularly answered the music quiz on public radio station WUOT; his collection of WUOT mugs goes back more than 20 years. He was a life-long learner and avid reader who read the newspaper cover-to-cover every day.

Hugh was especially kind to animals and children. He would buy hamburgers for himself and his dogs then go to the park to enjoy them together. When he demonstrated pottery-making, children would flock around him, touching and pinching the pots he had already made. He never got upset; he would just let them get on the potter’s wheel to try for themselves.

Looking back, Hugh’s life was a beautiful piece of art, sometimes messy in creation, full of humor, wit, and interesting stories, always kind and generous, and absolutely unique.

A celebration of life service will be held at 1:00 Saturday at the Berry Highland Memorial Funeral Home, 5315 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919. Details of a post-memorial gathering will be announced at the service.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to the Humane Society of Anderson County (969 Oak Ridge Turnpike, PMB 366, Oak Ridge, TN 37830), WUOT 91.9 FM public radio (209 Communications Building, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-0322), or to an art organization of your choice.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, January 18, 2020
  • Graveside Service Sunday, January 19, 2020


Hugh Adair Bailey

have a memory or condolence to add?

sherby jones

January 18, 2020

Hugh was a longtime friend of my family. My mother, Ellen Jones, was an early patron of his. When she opened The Gift Horse on Sutherland avenue, He and Bill Lett were her featured craftsmen and they helped her set up her first shop. Later, Hugh and his family rented our family house in South Knoxville. I remember Hugh dug his clay out of a rich vein on the hill on Candora in Vestal. And I remember that he drove me and my husband through the snow when I went into labor with my first child. Later, when we both did the Southern Highland Guild fairs that Hugh allways demonstrated . He let my daughters learn to throw on his potters wheel. His affordable prices meant that we allways had numerous wonderful works of his . I remember when I took a workshop he gave that he taught me to paint as fast as I could. My cat was the fastest cat you ever saw. Later, when he was such an active member of The Art Market, I had a gallery next door and saw each other often. All the loving , caring things that people have said about him here at his death are absolutely true. Hugh Bailey created what he wanted to and his work is allways recognizable. He created from the heart and he treated people the same way. I shall miss him very much and he will allways be a inspiration to me.

Sue Carey

January 18, 2020

I first met Hugh in the early 1960s when I was an undergraduate student at UT. I got a part-time job at the University's publications office where Hugh was a full-time design artist. After I graduated, I started working full time, so Hugh and I were colleagues for the next ten years or so. Sometimes he'd ask me to proofread a brochure or flyer he was designing for one of the charities he supported. I was happy to proofread for him and expected nothing in return, but occasionally he'd gift me with a small pottery piece (or, as he would say, "a pot for your pot"). For some reason, Hugh started calling me "Young Sue" and continued to call me "Young Sue" for the next 50+ years. I last saw him about a year ago, and he was still as joyful and sweet and caring as he had been when I first met him in 1962. You are missed, Hugh.

Beth Ellis

January 18, 2020

In 1967 when I stated working with you at UT Press and Publications Service Bureau you were always a funny guys and made people laugh. You would dive me nuts ever Monday when you brought me your “yellow time” sheet for the previous week of work. I would pester you and we would always laugh! How you loved to tell stories and make people smile. Working with you for all those many years until I retired in 2009 bring lots of smiles to my face today. As Kathy and Diane said, you left this world too soon. I am only sorry that I can’t be at your service today but you will always have a special place in my heart.

Mary Ann Damos

January 18, 2020

I first met Hugh while working at Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge. He was always so generous with his time and talents, demonstrating, teaching and donating his delightful artwork for our fundraisers. He never turned us down. After my retirement, I saw what an asset he was to the Oak Ridge Art Center and the community as a whole. He was a dear person, always kind and fun to be around. I will miss him.

Karen Davis

January 17, 2020

I was a green young artist when I first met Hugh at Historic Rugby's Spring Festival in May 1988. We shared the commissary porch each spring for the next 25 years, we were also beside each other several times at the Foothills shows. I always looked forward to visiting with Hugh and hearing his stories, he never forgot anyone's name.
I learned a lot about life listening to Hugh's stories but what I quickly learned was his love for his family, most of his stories were about them, I feel as if I know them through his stories, he was very proud of them.
Hugh loved his art but I think he loved the people his art brought into his life more.
Rest in peace Hugh, you will be missed.

Diane M Williams

January 17, 2020

Bailey, dear friend, you have left the planet too soon.
For so many years we have laughed, joked, commiserated,
pontificated, predicted, analyzed, opinionated, and
solved all the world’s problems over lunch.

Many years have passed since we first met,
became friends, then colleagues
in a creative constellation. Stars like Kathy,
Mary Jo, Greta, Pan, James, and Linda
share my sorrow at your passing.

You were an artistic genius, unique in your vision
of the world. You created whimsical animals
adored by children and adults alike—birds,
possums, dragons, owls, turtles, foxes,
and cat houses full of sassy cats.

In December I called you for a lunch date.
You were in the hospital, where you would stay
until the day before you sailed away
for distant shores.

I am glad I told you on the last day I saw you
that I love you.

Mary McDowell

January 17, 2020

Through the influence of my mother, Martha Jane McDowell, Hugh’s work is appreciated in our various families’ homes from Virginia to Texas. A cat in this room, an angel fish in that, a lion above the bed, my mother’s home and all the children’s homes share the common, joyful theme of Hugh’s work. We are deeply grateful for the creativity, skill and whimsy his work has afforded us throughout our lives, and we send our sympathy and energy to his family. He will be missed.

This 20” by 32” painting, signed by Hugh Bailey ‘61, was purchased by Lois Wallace at a Dulin Gallery silent auction, and Lois gifted it to Mary McDowell, age 10 at the time, because I had the second highest bid. The piece hangs in my son’s room, himself an aspiring artist. This gift keeps giving.

Helen Wiliams

January 17, 2020

What an inspiration for living and creating Hugh was! I can go to my bookcase and find many books that Hugh and I worked on together at the University of Tennessee Press. On one book he did the design and I did the illustrations, and vice versa on another book. I can go to all the rooms in my home and find one or more ceramic creations signed "hab" on the bottom. Each one of them whispers to me, "How are you using your artistic talent these days, Helen?" That is Hugh encouraging me to use it or lose it. When I talked to him on my visits to Knoxville, he would encourage me. My reply to him this day would be that maybe I have inspired my daughter and grandsons to pursue their art.

Denise Carpenter

January 16, 2020

Hugh will forever stand out in my memory as perhaps THE most kind, gentle and creative individual I've every known, or will ever meet. Upon my retirement from WUOT in September, I was presented with one of Hugh's fantastical "cat houses." What a special place that holds in my heart especially now. I worked with Hugh and Kathy Aycock for many years when WUOT published a monthly program guide, Hugh providing the artwork for the cover. His talent was immeasurable as was his kindness. I never got tired of hearing his 'Da Niece and Da Nephew' joke which he just had to tell me most times I saw him. I'd roll my eyes and he'd laugh. Rest in peace, sweet darling Hugh.

Kathryn Aycock

January 16, 2020

I worked beside Hugh for many years in his day job as a graphic designer for Publications — the print world of UT Public Relations. Technology propelled the half-dozen-plus of us in the office into layer upon layer of overwhelming changes, beginning with that little boxy Macintosh (pre-SE) computer on our desks. Hugh, being a little more nervous than the rest of us, was the last to adopt this new way. But he did. I’ve never seen anything like it. So direct was his connection to where ever ideas come from, he took hold of the mouse, and as he zipped it around firmly on the mouse pad, marvelous art would appear on the screen.

All of his art, whether design, water color, pen and ink, or pottery, was fanciful, delightful, with humor and cheer. One might wonder if he fell into the rabbit hole with Alice. Not only a genius, Hugh was humble, good to the bone, and, as a friend said, “pure spirit.” Lovely man.