Ralph E. Bailey, 92, passed away peacefully on February 1 in Greenwich, Connecticut. Born on March 23, 1924 in Pike County, Indiana and the son of Enos M. and Gertie L. Bailey, Ralph became a distinguished veteran of the coal and petroleum industries.
The former Chairman and CEO of Conoco Inc., he helped mastermind the largest corporate merger of its day when Conoco was acquired by DuPont in 1981, after which he additionally served as Vice Chairman of DuPont.
He is regarded not only for his impressive accomplishments as an executive, but also for his early staunch commitment to safety, engineering and improving operations.
Ralph was raised in Lynnville, Indiana where his father and many relatives worked in the coal mines.
Following his World War II service in Patton's Third Army, he returned home in 1945 to marry his high school sweetheart, Bettye J. Holder, and complete his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1949 from Purdue University.
After graduation, Mr. Bailey joined Peabody Coal Company (formerly Northern Illinois Coal Corporation) and rose from Master Mechanic to Executive Vice President in 1964.
While at Peabody, his leadership and creativity paved the way for major gains in coal mining productivity with the use of a new generation of giant shovels and draglines.
In 1965, he joined Consolidation Coal Company (Consol) as Vice President, and became its President and CEO in 1975.
Mr. Bailey is credited with many innovations, including the first longwall system to operate in eastern bituminous coal, now the standard for efficient underground mining.
His namesake Bailey Mine in Southwestern Pennsylvania is among the more productive and higher volume underground coal mines in the United States.
As important as productivity was Mr. Bailey's commitment to employees and their families.
He treated all, from miners to executives, with the same dignity and respect. In conversation, he listened with mind and heart, personally knew many family members, and rarely forgot a name.
He championed a grass roots program at Consol to greatly improve the health and safety for both underground and surface miners, and the dramatic results set a new standard for the industry.
Lost time accidents, injuries and fatalities were all greatly reduced, while fires, floods and explosions were virtually eliminated.
The "Ralph E. Bailey Safety Trophy," awarded to operations that worked a million man-hours without a lost time accident, was a reminder of his commitment to the safety of miners and his principled and compassionate leadership.
Consol was acquired by Conoco in 1965 and Mr. Bailey later rose to be Chairman and CEO of Conoco by 1979.
Under Mr. Bailey's leadership, Conoco undertook new methods for extracting petroleum in hostile environments, such as the North Sea.
For example, the Tension Leg Platform was introduced as a floating structure tethered to the seabed with steel cables, a more cost effective means of producing oil and gas than traditional platforms anchored to the seabed with huge concrete legs.
He also encouraged the expansion of Conoco's activities to more remote and challenging environments, such as the North Slope of Alaska.
He led the company through its merger with DuPont in 1981 and subsequently retired from Conoco and DuPont in 1987.
He then joined his son, Douglas, at American Bailey Corporation, which they co- founded in 1984 as a privately-owned investment company.
During his career, he served as President of the American Mining Congress and received AMC's Distinguished Service Award for his industry contributions.
He also served as Chairman of the National Petroleum Council, Chairman of the Environmental Task Force of the Business Roundtable, and Director of the American Petroleum Institute.
Purdue University awarded him an honorary Doctorate in Engineering in 1979 and he was inducted into the National Mining Hall of FameR in 2015.
Mr. Bailey was an enthusiastic outdoorsman, enjoying bird hunting and fishing, and was a founding director of the National Forest Foundation.
He was an avid golfer, often willing to make a small wager, and a member of Augusta National Golf Club.
As an active community member, he was noted for his devotion to his churches in Elberfeld and Log Creek (IN) and in Greenwich; for his leadership and support of the Manchester, VT Music Festival; and for being named a 33rd Degree Mason.
Perhaps most important was his commitment to educational quality and support for students.
At Purdue University, he and Bettye endowed a merit scholarship program for graduates of Tecumseh High School (IN) and a Professorship of Combustion in Mechanical Engineering.
Most notably, they were the visionaries and lead donors to create the Ralph & Bettye Bailey Hall as a home for the Purdue Musical Organizations.
In addition, they established a Chair for the Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh (Bettye's alma mater) to fund strategic initiatives in the fine arts.Click Here to read his bio in the National Mining Hall Of Fame and Museum website.