one. more. day. david m bailey (1966 – 2010)

I did the ‘it’s not fair!’ thing but that got old really fast and ended quickly. Of course it’s not fair. It’s also not fair that I already survived over 12 years when so many others have not. And so on.

– david m bailey (28 november 2008)

I’ve written a couple of times about Virginia-based singer-songwriter, david m bailey, a 14-year survivor of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). As a kid of the 1970s, it’s difficult not to hear Jim Croce and Cat Stevens in both his voice and finger-picking style. I was lucky to see him play at a scientific symposium in 2002 and have followed him since.

David spoke gratefully, and often, of his treatment at Duke University’s Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center by the famous but unrelated team of surgeon Allan Friedman and oncologist Henry Friedman and a cast of dozens at the world-renowned clinic that dates back to 1937.

Following his original diagnosis in 1996, David quit his corporate software job and returned to his original love of acoustic music, composing 23 CDs and touring around the world with a message of hope and being in the moment. The quote above came after david’s recurrence in late 2008.

David was moved to hospice on September 3rd and I received news that he passed last Friday, October 2nd.

The following song became a daily staple not only for David but for thousands of people living with cancer around the world. Enjoy and celebrate the message while you read his obituary below.

David Mark Bailey, 44, of Earlysville, died of brain cancer on October 2, 2010 in Charlottesville, VA and was welcomed into everlasting life at his place at the Table with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Born February 26, 1966, David was the son of Kenneth and Ethel Bailey, missionaries to the Middle East. For the first 22 years of his life, his home was Beirut, Lebanon, including the first ten years of the Lebanese civil war. Because of war, the family was obliged to evacuate first to Switzerland (1967), and later to Cyprus (1982). David’s two final years of high school were completed in a private school in Germany because he was, as a young man, especially vulnerable on the streets of Beirut.

David attended Grove City College in western Pennsylvania, where he met and married his soul mate, Leslie McGarvey, of Emlenton, PA. During his college years he was active as a performing songwriter, playing evening and weekend gigs with a music partner. He also enjoyed choir, frat life, acting, and organizing an underground newspaper. David graduated with majors in English and Communication Arts. In the late 80’s, David and Leslie relocated to the Washington, D.C. area where David worked for the U.S. government in satellite imagery analysis. His career evolved to training and then program management with numerous software subcontractors, ending with employment with Eastman Software in Massachusetts. Their daughter, Kelcey, was born in 1992 and son, Cameron, in 1994.

The day prior to moving to the Boston area, in July of 1996, David was diagnosed with brain cancer – Glioblastoma Multiforme IV (GBM). He was expected to have fewer than two years to live. Eager to have his life make a difference in the lives of others, he gave up his career in the software industry and, with a great leap of faith, launched a third career as a performing songwriter – a “troubadour of hope.” Following two surgeries, radiation, experimental chemotherapy and nuclear therapy, David criss-crossed America (and Europe) singing in coffee houses and churches, for cancer conferences and cancer survivor groups for 12 years. David wrote all of his own songs, which grew out of his experiences of war and of battling a deadly cancer. He sang of faith, hope, love and of living life to its fullest each day. He experienced a recurrence of brain cancer in late 2008, recovering enough to tour in 2009 and early 2010. Enduring numerous additional surgeries and difficult treatments, David made a final tour in July of this year.

David is survived by Leslie, his wife of 23 years; his children, Kelcey and Cameron; his parents, Kenneth and Ethel Bailey; a sister, Sara Makari and her husband, Victor; numerous sisters- and brothers-in-law and eight nieces and nephews. To quote a line from one of David’s songs, “The tears of the angels form a river where you can wash your pain, and even in the middle of the thunder, don’t forget the love inside the rain.” His theme was “There may be years of tears behind you, but right now you’ve got One More Day.” He leaves behind him a musical legacy of 23 professionally-recorded CDs. His music and his personal testimony have affected the lives of countless thousands in this country and around the world.

The family offers deep gratitude to Drs. Henry Friedman, Allan Friedman and David Reardon at Duke and Dr. David Schiff at UVa and their caring staffs. We also offer loving thanks to our family of caregivers at the Hospice House, Hospice of the Piedmont, Charlottesville. Memorial gifts are welcome and may be made to Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church, 6566 Spring Hill Road, Ruckersville, VA 22968. Half of those gifts will be equally divided between the following brain tumor organizations: The American Brain Tumor Association, the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke, Gray Matters Foundation, the Florida Brain Tumor Association and T.H.E. Brain Trust.

David was a charter member and Elder at Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ruckersville, VA, where he co-chaired the Evangelism Committee. Baptized into the Covenant, he was a lifelong Christian and we will have a Celebration of his life and of the Resurrection at a Memorial Service on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 2:00 pm at Meadows Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, VA. His daughter suggests an attire of tie-dye, if you like. David would be wearing jeans and ask you to check out his website,

David sent out a reflective missive out New Year’s Eve 2009, a few days after he played a Christmas concert with his son, Cameron.

And there were indeed better days waiting:  Despite some ugly chemo, I took the stage 53 times this past year in 16 states, struggled to find my voice and my message again, released the LOVE CD and the Friendship CD and met more wonderful people than anyone deserves.

Thanks for being on my team.  Come what may, let’s make 2010 astounding.

Love & peace, david

UPDATE: Others around the web remember David:

Michael Manning, Phoenix-based broadcast journalist

Presbyterian News Service, Jerry L. Van Marter

GBS Records | Oath Studios

National Brain Tumor Society

Advice on being a patient at Duke in David’s own words.

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