Obituary for Benjamin Bailar
Benjamin Franklin Bailar, a resident of Lake Forest, Illinois, died on February 20, 2017. Bailar served as Postmaster General of the United States from 1975 to 1978. His major responsibility was to administer this semi-independent government corporation so that it could support itself on revenues from mail users. Bailar was especially concerned with the quality of mail service and postal costs. One significant cost was labor, and Bailar negotiated a contract which averted a strike by the unionized postal employees in July 1975. After Bailar had left office, the late Congressman Tom Steed said “Postal Reform did not start when Congress passed the Postal Reform Act of 1971. It started when Bailar became Postmaster General.” In addition to serving as Postmaster General, Bailar held management positions at Continental Oil Company, American Can, and United States Gypsum. He was also Dean and Professor at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Administration at Rice University in Houston from 1987 to 1997. In addition, he served on the boards of numerous companies and non-profit organizations and was still active in that capacity until a few years before his death. Bailar was born in Champaign, Illinois on April 21, 1934. His father, John C. Bailar, Jr. was a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois, and had a worldwide reputation as a teacher and a researcher. His mother Florence taught Mathematics at the University of Illinois. Both of his grandfathers and several uncles were university professors. His older brother, John C. Bailar, III was a well-known medical statistician and was on the faculty of the Harvard University School of Public Health and later the University of Chicago Medical School. Bailar did not consider himself a scholar and was determined not to go into the family business. After attending public schools and the University of Illinois lab school in his home town, Bailar attended the University of Colorado. Following his graduation from Colorado in 1955, he served in the U. S. Navy as a Supply Officer before entering the Harvard Business School where he got his MBA in 1959. He was also the recipient of honorary degrees from Monmouth College in Illinois and from the University of Colorado. Bailar was an active color photographer for all of his adult life and exhibited his work all over the world. He also built a philatelic collection of items bearing the name or likeness of Benjamin Franklin and exhibited the collection to tell the story of U.S. postal history. In addition, he was an active Ferrari enthusiast. He purchased his first Ferrari in 1967 and owned and drove numerous others during his lifetime. He was preceeded in death by his first wife, Anne Tveit, to whom he had been married since 1958. After his first wife died in 2002, Bailar married Joan Housman Syer, who died in 2015. Bailar is survived by two children, Christina and Ben Jr. A Memorial Service will be held at 1:00 PM on April 21, 2017 at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, 700 N Sheridan Road, Lake Forest, IL. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, the American Cancer Society, or the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Adminstration at Rice University.