Odessa Pittard Bailey Addressing a Conference

Odessa Pittard Bailey (1906–1994)

Odessa Pittard Bailey was a civic leader in western Virginia. In 1944, after her appointment to the Roanoke Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, she became the first woman in Virginia's history to hold a judicial post higher than justice of the peace or county trial justice. She helped found the Virginia Council of Juvenile Court Judges and served as its president from 1947 to 1948. After leaving the bench in 1948, she was appointed to several state commissions dealing with crime and social work. Bailey participated in Democratic Party politics, and as president of the Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs she lobbied for increased state funding to help disadvantaged children and the mentally ill. After her husband's death in 1957, Bailey ran a travel agency in Roanoke. She later moved to California, where she died in 1994. MORE...

 

Bailey was born in Roanoke, the tenth of eleven children of George Nicholas Pittard, a Baptist minister, and Emma C. Board Pittard, a teacher. Odessa Pittard graduated from Roanoke High School in 1923, studied for a year at the National Business College in Roanoke, and from 1924 to 1944 worked in the office of the United States attorney for the western district of Virginia. She studied law in her spare time and was admitted to the bar in 1934. On March 3, 1932, she married Henry Stanley Bailey. They had one daughter.

Odessa Bailey became judge of the Roanoke Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on September 23, 1944. In spite of privately expressed objections from some city council members to the selection of a woman for the position, by a four to one vote the council appointed Bailey the first woman in Virginia's history to hold a judicial post higher than justice of the peace or county trial justice. She was also the first full-time juvenile court judge in Roanoke and served for one four-year term. Although not a court of record, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court was an important branch of the city's judiciary. As its only judge Bailey was brought into frequent contact with troubled children and directed the city's juvenile detention facility. She strengthened enforcement of child-support laws and became one of the state's most vocal advocates for reformed and improved social services for disadvantaged children. A founder of the Virginia Council of Juvenile Court Judges, she served as its president in 1947 and 1948.

Bailey's interest in social work continued after her term on the bench ended in 1948. She served on several state commissions during the 1950s, among them a state commission on sex offenses, another to study problems of juvenile offenders, and the Governor's Advisory Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped. In 1950 and 1951 she served as president of the Virginia Conference of Social Work, and her speech on September 20, 1950, to the New England Conference of State Federations of Women's Clubs on the need for more qualified social workers won a brief mention in the New York Times. Bailey later proposed that the money the Virginia General Assembly had appropriated for a memorial to World War II servicemen be spent instead on a facility to help emotionally disturbed children.

Bailey became active in Democratic Party politics as state woman's manager of the unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign of Horace Hall Edwards in 1949. She managed the work of Virginia women on behalf of Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential campaign and attended the Democratic National Convention four years later as a delegate at large. Bailey also served on the board of the General Federation of Women's Clubs and from 1952 to 1954 was president of the Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs. Her agenda focused on the education and health of children, and she lobbied for increased appropriations for the state's mental hospitals. During her presidency the federation helped pay for the mobile art gallery of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, reportedly the nation's first traveling artmobile. She was president of the Woman's Club of Roanoke from 1956 to 1958 and also active at one time or another, often simultaneously, as a member or officer of the Roanoke Community Chest and of the city and state units of the Family Service Association, the American Cancer Society, the Virginia Society for Crippled Children and Adults, and the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood.

Following her husband's death in 1957, Bailey founded and for twenty years served as president of a travel agency in Roanoke. In this capacity she traveled widely and often. After she retired she moved to California. She married Milton Schachtebeck in Sacramento on December 18, 1987. He died there in 1992, and she died in or near Davis, California, on January 8, 1994. Odessa Clyde Pittard Bailey Schachtebeck was buried in Evergreen Burial Park in Roanoke.

Time Line

  • April 24, 1906 - Odessa Clyde Pittard is born in Roanoke, the tenth of eleven children of George Nicholas Pittard, a Baptist minister, and Emma C. Board Pittard, a teacher.
  • 1923 - Odessa Clyde Pittard graduates from Roanoke High School and studies for a year at the National Business College in Roanoke.
  • 1924–1944 - Odessa Clyde Pittard works in the office of the United States attorney for the western district of Virginia. She studies law in her spare time.
  • March 3, 1932 - Odessa Clyde Pittard marries Henry Stanley Bailey. They will have one daughter.
  • 1934 - Odessa Clyde Pittard Bailey is admitted to the bar.
  • September 23, 1944 - Odessa Clyde Pittard Bailey becomes judge of the Roanoke Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. She is the first woman in Virginia's history to hold a judicial post higher than justice of the peace or county trial justice.
  • 1947–1948 - Odessa Clyde Pittard Bailey founds and serves as president of the Virginia Council of Juvenile Court Judges.
  • September 20, 1950 - Odessa Clyde Pittard Bailey delivers a speech to the New England Conference of State Federations of Women's Clubs on the need for more qualified social workers, which wins her a brief mention in the New York Times.
  • 1952–1954 - Odessa Clyde Pittard Bailey is president of the Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs. Her agenda focuses on the education and health of children, and she lobbies for increased appropriations for the state's mental hospitals.
  • 1956–1958 - Odessa Clyde Pittard Bailey is president of the Woman's Club of Roanoke.
  • 1957 - Following her husband's death in this year, Odessa Clyde Pittard Bailey founds and serves for twenty years as president of a travel agency in Roanoke.
  • December 18, 1987 - Odessa Clyde Pittard Bailey marries Milton Schachtebeck in Sacramento. He dies there in 1992.
  • January 8, 1994 - Odessa Clyde Pittard Bailey Schachtebeck dies near Davis, California. She is buried in Evergreen Burial Park in Roanoke.
Further Reading
Tarter, Brent. "Odessa Pittard Bailey." In the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 1, John T. Kneebone et al, 286–287. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998.
Northington, Etta Belle Walker. A History of The Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs, 1907–1957. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs, 1958, pp. 97–101.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Tarter, B., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Odessa Pittard Bailey (1906–1994). (2014, July 17). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Bailey_Odessa_Pittard_1906-1994.

  • MLA Citation:

    Tarter, Brent and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Odessa Pittard Bailey (1906–1994)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 17 Jul. 2014. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: May 8, 2013 | Last modified: July 17, 2014


Contributed by Brent Tarter and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Brent Tarter is founding editor of the Dictionary of Virginia Biography