BARSTOW • Willie Hailey Sr. — a former California Highway Patrol officer, coach, school board member and city councilman — has died at the age of 55.
Hailey passed away due to congestive heart failure while in the hospital at Loma Linda University Medical Center at around 4 a.m. Wednesday, according to his son Willie Hailey Jr.
“I want to say on behalf of my family that we’re grateful for the outcry of comments from the community on both Facebook and the website,” Hailey Jr. said. “I know my dad meant a lot to a lot of people and he would want everyone to know that he loved his community. He loved Barstow and he spent his life serving them.”
Hailey was born and raised in Barstow and served as a city councilman from 2008 until earlier this month, after he declined to run for reelection. He is well known for his years of service in coaching and umpiring for numerous sports programs. He also served two consecutive terms with the Barstow Unified School District.
He was the sixth child born to Robert and Mary Hailey and graduated from Barstow High School in 1975 and California State University, Sacramento with a bachelor’s degree in Criminology in 1980. After 27 years with the CHP, Hailey retired in 2007.
“It’s definitely a sad day for myself and the rest of the community,” said Joe Gomez, former Barstow mayor and a childhood friend and colleague of Hailey’s.
Current Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre said she was deeply saddened by the loss.
“He was a man that fought for his convictions, and was guided by his core beliefs of honest government for the people and by the people,” she said. “His contributions to this great city will endure as we reflect on his legacy of championing the rights of all Barstow residents. We have lost a leader and a friend.”
Shay W. Thompson, a former high school football player under Hailey, said he initially bumped heads with him because of his own personal lack of discipline but that Hailey’s guidance changed his life.
“As he worked with me, he not only helped me play the game of football but he helped me play the game of life. He was a very influential person in my life and will be sorely missed,” Thompson said.
Hailey is survived by his five children (Nicole, Willie Jr., David, Andrea and Taylor); his 13 grandchildren (Christian, Danielle, Arianna, Eileen, Gabriel, Daniella, Leslie, Elias, Alisaria, Jahnae, Kayron, Mia and Leila); and Karyn, his wife of four months.
“My entire family is very important to me — and I mean my entire family,” Hailey told the Desert Dispatch in August. “Family takes care of family is something we were taught, and that can mean making a pot of soup to driving someone to New York.”
Funeral details have not yet been arranged.
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