In Memoriam: Ebbie Bailey, NCAJ Matriarch

March 07, 2024

Ebbie Bailey, widow of NCAJ founder Allen Bailey and the matriarch of the NCAJ family, died early Wednesday morning, March 6. She was 98.

Beginning in late 1960, when Ebbie drove Allen from Charlotte to Winston-Salem to the first meeting of the five trial lawyers who dreamed of forming a professional association, Ebbie was a stalwart of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, now known as NCAJ. She attended the first 56 NCAJ conventions, showing up even more often than her husband, who had to miss some years due to trial.

Shortly before his death in 2006, Allen described Ebbie as “mother on duty to the legal community.”

“She has been my wonderful companion and my rock for nearly 60 years,” he said.

Through the decades and continuing after Allen’s death, Ebbie supported the Academy and countless of its members as a companion and a rock and for some as a second mother.

NCAJ Past President Mark Sumwalt included himself among that number when he presented Ebbie with an NCAJ Presidential Medal of Honor in gratitude for her commitment and dedication to NCAJ. He praised Ebbie’s values as an inspiration to NCAJ and its members.

“There is a saying that lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. No one in the 56 years of this organization has shined any brighter than you.”

NCAJ Past President Mark Sumwalt

Christened Evoydeene Warren, Ebbie met Allen in eighth grade at a school near her home in Clinton. They parted ways when Allen moved to another school after 10th grade but reunited by chance some years later and became sweethearts before he went to war in 1941. Ebbie collected and kept all 543 letters that Allen wrote her from the South Pacific during his time in the Army.They married upon his return, and she worked to help put him through Wake Forest University for undergraduate and law school before he founded a practice in Charlotte in 1950.

At the Academy’s first convention, which drew 60 people to the Old Charlotte Hotel, Ebbie ran the registration desk. She oversaw the fledgling organization doing whatever needed to be done to cultivate its growth until it became large enough that she recommended the hiring of an executive director in 1973.

A young Linda McGee, just out of law school and long before her lengthy tenure as Chief Judge for the North Carolina Court of Appeals, took the job. She recalls that Allen and Ebbie were invaluable resources on Academy history.

“Ebbie just adopted all of us over time, and she was particularly supportive of me,” McGee said. “It was great to have people in a very short period of time, and all around the state, to call on if something was needed.”

In 2003 under the leadership of Janet Ward Black, NCAJ established the Ebbie Award to recognize service and inspired commitment to NCAJ and its mission in honor of Ebbie Bailey.

A service to celebrate Ebbie’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 11 at First Baptist Church in Charlotte. The family will receive friends following the service.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers memorials be made in her honor to First Baptist Church, 336 S. Davidson Street, Charlotte NC 28202, or to the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, 701 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 450, Raleigh, NC 27607. Online donations can be made here.

Find Ebbie’s obituary here.

Ebbie Bailey Interviews

Watch NCAJ Past President Mark Sumwalt’s two-part interview of Ebbie Bailey.

NCAJ Legends Page