Fans of Fern
There is an old adage that one should bloom where they are planted. Doing so is perhaps easier when one already has deep roots.
Fern Bailey’s status as surrogate grandmother and ultimate volunteer at the Gran-bury Opera House has a lot to do with the fact that she was born here, her parents were born here, and her grandmother and aunt were probably among the last patients at the old Granbury Hospital off the square. For years the aging building served as a dormitory for Opera House actors and stagehands until the city condemned it.
Known as “Miss Fern,” Bailey, currently president of the Granbury Opera Guild, has served as a “jack-of-all-trades” for the GTC, according to box office manager Kevin Baum.
“She is a blessing to this company,” Baum said. “She is a blessing to this town, she really is.”
GTC board president Micky Shearon said that Bailey is “the epitome of a servant leader,” doing everything from “cleaning the Opera House bathrooms to taking our blankets home to wash and dry, and pretty much everything in between.”
Doing grunt work such as cleaning bathrooms is perhaps particularly selfless since, according to assistant box office manager J.D. Choate, Miss Fern is also “a fashion icon” who is rarely seen twice in the same outfit.
“From earrings to lipstick to socks to heels, there is a whole outfit for every occasion,” Choate said.
Shearon said that Bailey “is the type of person that is the backbone and lifeblood of a nonprofit organization.” That’s why he recently offered her a paid position as usher supervisor. With the GTC’s shows increasingly winning awards, shows are often sell-outs or near-sellouts.
“She wanted to argue a little bit,” Baum said about the compensation. “She didn’t want to be paid.”
Bailey told the HCN that she is a never-met-a-stranger type of person.
“She is very good about mingling with guests before (shows) or during intermission,” Baum said. “I like to think of her as kind of an ambassador for Visit Granbury as well. She’s always giving suggestions for places to eat or tour, etc. She is Miss Gran-bury.”
Although just 22, Choate said that he has worked in the theater industry for quite some time and has seen no match for Miss Fern.
“I have never met a woman (more) selfless than her,” he said.
Bailey had a great track record of never missing a show at the Opera House until a nasty stomach virus hit a couple of weeks ago.
She’s on the mend, though, and will likely be back at the Opera House this weekend, asking actors and stagehands, “Have you eaten?”
Said Baum, “Even if you haven’t eaten, you’d better tell her ‘yes.’”
Local restaurants donate food for Saturday meals that Bailey serves up between the matinee and evening performances.
A former employee of H-E-B, Bailey is involved with the Lake Granbury Newcomers Club, the Woman’s Wednesday Club and the Granbury Cloggers.
“I’ve been clogging for 21 years,” she said.
Bailey is flattered by the honor of a paid position with the GTC but would have been happy to continue working for free.
“I love the theater family,” she said. “I do this because these kids are like my own.”
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