We are here to celebrate the life of Ronald Walter Bayliss, who was hardworking and steadfast in pursuit of his life’s ambitions. Yet he was kind, honest and trusting, and I am incredibly lucky, blessed even, and proud to say that Ronald Bayliss was my father.
The most memorable and happy times I remember of course were weekends at Penn State football games. Cool fresh air, the buzz from the crowds of people, the smell of steak sizzling on the grill, cold beer. And of course Penn State Football! Whenever someone got the ball I can still hear my father yelling “run you rascal!”
Weekends when the games were not at Beaver Stadium, my father would be hard at work on a home renovation project.
Over the course of his adult life he bought and sold homes, each one coming with bigger rehabs, and lucky for us better neighborhoods. [Apologies, cousin Janet, this was not a dig against Whitehouse Sta.!]
He was a whirlwind of action sometimes even working nights during the week. And true to fashion even after those late nights he was ready and left for work early the next morning.
Apparently he always had a new car for his commute to work. When we lived in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. I remember the neighbor lady asking him “Ron, don’t you ever keep a car more than a year?” I guess it helped to have a brother in the business! At 8 years old I was just happy to get to ride in big boys toys, mine could only be pushed around the yard!
At the time he worked for Bowen Engineering and I remember the annual company picnics. Tons of other kids my own age and lots of activities just for us kids. It was a lot of fun. I could tell the boss man really liked my father, he paid him a lot of attention. Unbeknownst to me they were already making money from my father’s spray dryer designs.
Some years passed and we moved to East Whitehouse, NJ. where he started right away, again with the home renovations. He certainly had an eye for what could be done. This house gained a 2nd floor master bedroom with a walk in closet and bathroom. What I remember of the commuter cars at that time is there was just one. A 1961 Mercedes-Benz 190SL. He drove it to the train station on his commute to New York City after joining Koch Engineering. This sadly is when he started to go on long business trips, but he always brought us great gifts from Germany or China or from whatever far away place he would disappear to and return from.
Even after we moved to Reaville, he commuted with that “hot rod” for anumber of years. He finally took it off the road (that’s when I would take it for a spin around the block when no one was home to stop me)! Eventually it sold to a collector from Germany who wanted it restored.
It was the mid ‘70’s and Reaville would be the last home we all lived in together and it would be my father’s largest undertaking eventually working on every room, adding an addition and mastering some structural challenges. All the while his career was taking off. Companies took notice when his spray dryer designs actually made better products. In spite of the traveling, the weeknight renovations, the weekend football games, motor-homes, a wife and two teenage kids.
Ron Bayliss quit his job to start his own business. And even while launching a new business the renovations would continue including a complete gut of the old home’s kitchen.
I see a cousin or two here who instrumentally helped my father raise and set in place giant hand-hewed beams to create an exposed beam ceiling in the kitchen. It turned out beautiful.
His company, Bayliss Industries was profitable and we all enjoyed, we were lucky, to enjoy my father’s successes. Especially me, when he helped start my career by giving me a job. The skills and notably the work ethic I gleaned from working with him those ten years continue to support me today long after the company was sold.
But wait, there’s more. He was hired as Director of Engineering for the Davison Chemical Div. of WR Grace. Eventually they awarded a German company, Trema Verfahrenstechnik, a big contract for an environmental control system under the condition they open an office in the United States to manage the project.
My father got me an interview with the Germans, and upon my hire Trema North America was born. For the following 2 years my father was now my customer! The project went well and Trema Germany made a lot of money. They decided to keep the office open and go after more business in the US. My contract position was now a full time job. To get started we needed a chemical engineer. The owner asked me if I thought my dad would be a good engineer. Are you kidding? Who else do you know actually uses a slide rule? If you gave him a marker and a white-board he’d turn into a mad-scientist scribbling equations. And these spray dryers? He’s the world’s expert. They hired him!
A match made in heaven. My father could design and sell spray dryers along with the needed environmental systems as a packaged set. The company grew and was profitable. After a few years though we were at odds with our parent company. Of course my dad did what any good American businessman would do. He bought them out, and Bayliss Technologies was born. I then had the pleasure to continue working with my dad for nearly another 10 prosperous years.
The final year, however was tumultuous. We had just landed the biggest job of all time. A huge spray dryer and all the needed environmental equipment as part of a 100 million dollar contaminated waste disposal facility, in Texas. This one job could carry the company for over a year and it was going well, until a little problem arose which became insurmountable.
You see, the project was funded by the Superfund, a US federal government program to fund the cleanup of toxic waste. In our day, it was managed by then vice president Al Gore, you know the guy who invented the internet?
When Mr Gore got into hot water over alleged misuse of Superfund money, funding to many projects was cut, including the project in Texas which it crippled and then halted progress completely. Many small to medium sized businesses lost their business because of this. And it would also mark the sad end of Bayliss Technologies, when a rouge vendor used the courts to force an “involuntary bankruptcy. ”
But there were silver linings. My brother who had only joined the company maybe a year earlier, reorganized the business under a new name with essentially a clean slate. My father retired and eventually met Pat. For my father a lifetime of hard work had finally paid off. Oh there was plenty of fun along the way, but at this point in life he needed, and deserved a well-earned rest.
I know these past years years with Pat were some of my father’s best years. Of course he had a good life with many more ups than downs but he looked different to me somehow, like he was content. And in the arms of Pat and her extended family how could he not be.
My hope is we all will remember how my father Ronald Walter Bayliss lived his life by example and showed us that through hard work and dedication, truly anything can be achieved. I believe in my heart he would want us all to carry that lesson with us where ever we go and whatever our endeavors may be.