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  The death of William Bailey last week at the age of 68 was a terrible loss for his brother, F. Lee Bailey, the noted criminal attorney and celebrity, as well as his sister, who also lives on Admiral’s Hill. The Bailey family is a remarkable example of how very educated people can become so successful and highly regarded.

The late Mr. Bailey – it was actually Dr. Bailey – was a television talk show host and one of the nation’s leading insurance experts. Like his brother, F. Lee, William was a Marine and graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Do I need to go on about this man’s intellectual abilities? I have met and known all the Baileys.

Oddly enough, I first met F. Lee Bailey in the early 1960s, when I was a kid working behind the counter in my father’s drugstore in Chelsea Square. F. Lee Bailey was serving as the Boston strangler’s attorney, taking over from Attorney Robert Sheinfeld, one of many attorneys who kept an office in the Exchange Building which my family owned (which was purchased by my grandfather in 1912).

Mr. Sheinfeld, a Chelsea legend, who died maybe 30 years ago, was an able attorney who did everything – torts, criminal, wills, etc. He had known alleged Boston strangler, Albert DeSalvo, since he was a kid.

DeSalvo grew up in a three-family home that my family owned on Chestnut Street, so he was known to all of us. I knew his brother, who was a cross country trucker, and from whom I bought fireworks every Fourth of July and sold to my friends in Marblehead, where I grew up.

I didn’t know Albert as well, but I knew who he was. When F. Lee Bailey took over his defense, he came into the drugstore and announced himself.

“I’m looking for Robert Sheinfeld’s office,” he asked, which I recall clearly. He was young then. Sharp as a tack.

OJ and all the others he would represent were still years ahead of him. “Upstairs,” my father told Bailey.

He bounded out of the drugstore and went to visit with Mr. Sheinfeld in his law office. It’s not much of a connection,  but a connection nevertheless.

A few years later, when DeSalvo was convicted and sent to prison, a book was written entitled, “The Boston Strangler,” by Gerald Frank. And in that book, Bailey’s visit to Mr. Sheinfeld’s office was described at length.  In the book, it was written something like this …above Resnek’s Drug Store in his Chelsea Square law office, Robert Sheinfeld met with F. Lee Bailey.”

For what it is worth, Mr. Sheinfeld was a lifelong, close Resnek family friend. He insisted that DeSalvo never did what he admitted to and for which he was sent to prison

“He’s a screwball and a disturbed kid, but I don’t believe he’d rape of kill anyone,” Mr. Sheinfeld often said to me. Back to the late Mr. Bailey and all the Baileys.

This is an extraordinary family – and the Chelsea Baileys are real people, with many friends on Admiral’s Hill. They are humble, quiet, intelligent, highly educated people.

Chelsea has lost a good citizen with the death of William Bailey. My condolences to his family.

The Baileys are the real thing.

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