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Photograph: Mayor Dwight Landreneau and Frederick Robert Bailey for his 100th birthday party. (Photograph by Freddie Herpin.)

BOBBY ARDOIN
Editor/Consulting Writer

Although Frederick Robert Bailey had his 100th birthday recognized by a governor’s proclamation and congratulations from many Town of Washington residents, he seemingly treated the occasion with an appearance of nonchalance.

Bailey quietly walked into the American Legion Post 209 headquarters Wednesday, accepted a cold can of beer and then chatted genially with most of those there for the honorary occasion.

While there was no need for introduction to nearly all his guests, Bailey also didn’t have to travel a long distance to meet them.

His trip across Bayou Courtableau for his birthday party was one that he has probably taken often.

Bailey, who graduated from Washington High School, has lived in the town all his life, which began March 1, 1923.

During World War II Bailey joined the U.S. Coast Guard and finished his military service in Nantucket, R.I.

According to his niece, Evelyn Bailey Hanna, Bailey spent his postwar years working as a surveyor for the Louisiana State Highway Department.

Washington Mayor Dwight Landreneau remembered Bailey as a valued backdoor neighbor who was helpful especially when it came to handling and identifying wildlife.

Bailey was also mechanically adept with an accompanying encyclopedic knowledge for many issues, Landreau said.

“He had a wealth of knowledge and he could fix anything. Then if you wanted to discuss any kind of wildlife, (Bailey) was the person you wanted to have that conversation with. He not only could identify a type of bird for instance, he could give you scientific names too,” Landreneau said.

Landreau recalled that when he and his childhood friends trapped squirrels and other wildlife, it was Bailey who told them how to arrange the traps so the animals would remain unharmed after being caught.

“Mr. Bob has been studying wildlife for most of his 100 years and if you ask him now, he could probably tell you right now about the birds you see and everything about them,” Landreneau said.