Margaret Bailey: Living a legacy of service

  • Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Judy Watts/Journal Scene Margaret Bailey

n multiple boards, active in numerous organizations, volunteering weekly to read at two elementary schools, working out at the Y every morning and traveling to St. George and back for work, Margaret Bailey, 51, of Summerville is a very busy woman.

Every day, except for Wednesday, she hops on the Tri-County Link bus to go to work in St. George as the Dorchester County Registrar of Deeds, an elected position she has held for three terms.

Growing up in Summerville, she is simply following some very old and traditional footsteps.

“My family has served the community ever since we got here in the 1600s.”

She is a descendent of the Waring family, one of the first families to settle in the Village of Dorchester. Her great grandfather was the Chief Constable of Summerville. Her grandparents were with the WPA - Work Project Administration - during WWII. The Bailey side, she says, were one of the driving forces behind Azaela Park. Her dad was on Town Council and was the town engineer.

“I grew up in service,” she says. “My dad’s thing was ‘if you take from the community (education, trash pick-up, parks, whatever…) you need to give back with whatever time or talent you have.’”

She is a living example of that mantra.

She serves on the Kiwanis board; the Salvation Army Advisory Board for Dorchester County; is a former board member of the Francis R. Willis SPCA and a current member of the Endowment Board; a member of the Trident Technical College Medical Assisting Advisory Board; a team captain for the Upper Dorchester County Relay for Life (and has been invited to join its steering committee); secretary for the Episcopal Church Women; past president, past vice-president and member of the Summerville Republican Women’s Club and a committeeman for the Dorchester County Republican Party.

A graduate of SHS and magna cum laude from Trident Technical College as a paralegal/legal assistant, Bailey worked for the town from 1984 to 1997 as a dispatcher, reserve police officer and EMT Paramedic. She has also served as a SLED TAC Officer and NCIC instructor. She has volunteered for Lowcountry Aids Services, Crisis Ministries and various other nonprofits.

She married Lynn Shelton, Jr., nine years ago. She has a son, Marc Bailey, 32, who is a Summerville Police Officer. She is stepmom from a previous marriage, to Victoria Hunt, 26, who is, she says, “the daughter of my heart.” She has two “grandkids,” she says, Victoria’s children Trevor, 3 and Hannah, 7.

In 1999, she went to work for the probate court under Judge Tiffany Provence, where she worked as a paralegal and clerk. When the Registrar of Deeds was retiring, Judge Provence urged her to run.

“She told me ‘you would be very good at it’ and I had some background because my dad was a surveyor and I used to file plats for him,” she says. “So I ran and I won!”

At work, she is slowly but surely putting all the archives into digital, searchable format.

An arduous task at best.

“My goal is to bring all the records to electronic format,” she says. “It is a slow process but we are getting there.”

“I seem to be well suited to the job,” she laughs. In addition to all of this, she also heads up the Emergency Management Department – EMD – call-center.

She is the chairman of the Forfeited Land committee that determines what the county will do with land forfeited for back taxes. “We try to keep people in their homes, if we can,” she says.

She is a member of the Elks Club and has served on the Palmetto House board.

In her spare time, she enjoys cross stitching, reading, cross word puzzles and is a proud fan of SHS football, the Clemson Tigers and the New Orleans Saints.

Every Wednesday, what she calls her Summerville day, she goes to Flowertown Elementary or Newington Elementary to read. She is the Kiwanis Terrific Kids Volunteer Reading Program chair.

“Reading is so important,” she says. “Literacy is the foundation of everything…you can’t do much, you can’t succeed, if you can’t read. It is the favorite of all my programs, I would do it on my own.”

“I am from a family that finds education invaluable…I don’t have the temperament to be a teacher so I contribute another way.”

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