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Eugene H. “Ace” Bailey

Calvary Cemetery
Section 17, Block 17, Lot 257, Space NE
(August 20th 1913 -July13th, 1942)

 Dr. Eugene H. Bailey picture

Eugene “Ace” Bailey was born in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1934, he enrolled in Virginia State College. He joined the Virginia State football team and quickly gained a reputation as one of the top football players in the Central Collegiate Athletic Association. In 1937, he attained the highest scoring record in the conference. His athletic accomplishments were matched by his reputation on campus as a leader and top student. He graduated with honors in 1938.

That fall, he began teaching physical education at Booker T. Washington High School. He assisted football coach Luke Van Buren and initiated a 3 year effort to build a basketball program at the school. By 1942, he had developed the Booker T. Washington Basketball program from a fledgling team into the Eastern Conference champions. As a popular young teacher, he became known as a model of sportsmanship and clean living.

In 1942, he found summer employment at the burgeoning Norfolk Navy Yard. At this time, the US was fighting in World War II, and the yard was producing ships at a frenetic pace.  On July 17, a massive explosion occurred at the facility. Bailey and 4 other workers were killed instantly. The cause of the explosion was never revealed, due to the classified nature of the construction involved. His tragic death in the prime of his life sparked an outpouring of grief in the African-American academic and athletic communities. Jimmy Moore, the Virginia State athletic director, noted that Bailey’s driving ambition was to help wayward boys like the ones he had grown up alongside in Cleveland. He lamented the fact that his death was a serious setback to the youths he had guided as a mentor and coach. In 1980, he became one of the first players to be inducted into the Virginia State University Athletics Hall of Fame. His mother Naomi (1895-1977) is interred with him at Calvary.

Ace Bailey Victim Of Explosion
New Journal and Guide (1921-2003); Jul 18, 1942;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers Norfolk Journal and Guide (1921-2003)
pg. B1

New Journal and Guide (1916-2003); Oct 16, 1937;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers Norfolk Journal and Guide (1921-2003)
pg. A16

Coaches and President Pay Tribute To "Ace" Bailey
New Journal and Guide (1921-2003); Jul 25, 1942;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers Norfolk Journal and Guide (1921-2003)
pg. B22

We Mourn "Ace" Bailey's Death
New Journal and Guide (1921-2003); Jul 18, 1942;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers Norfolk Journal and Guide (1921-2003)
pg. B23

Remembering "Ace" Bailey
Jim Junot
Sports Information Director
Virginia State University

Biographical information provided by Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries.

Visitor Information

Visitor Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Office hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Saturday 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Free parking inside cemetery.

Admission Cost: Free

Address: 1600 St. Julian Ave., Norfolk, VA 23504

Official web site for more information:

Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation Web Site: