Bailey, who worked with the city for 17 years, was supposed to return Monday to Floyd County from the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center, where she had been staying for treatment. Mayor Jerry Fannin said Bailey died as they were loading her into an ambulance to bring her home. Hospice had already made arrangements to help her through her final days, he said.
Fannin said that Bailey was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer a few years ago and that the cancer returned recently. When doctors operated, Fannin said, they found something on Bailey's liver. They could not administer chemotherapy, he said.
It is an emotional time for city administrators, Fannin said. Monday's city council meeting was canceled shortly after city employees were informed of Bailey's death.
"She was a great person," Fannin said, "a person that anybody could depend on if you needed help. She was always there to help people. If we needed anything, all we needed to do was give her a call. She took a lot of the city with her when she died."
Bailey, 57, was one of the first four female volunteer firefighters in Prestonsburg, serving 10 years with the department.
The city has a plaque on display commemorating her service alongside Teddi Pence, Molly Chaffins, and former Prestonsburg police officer Sue Blackburn.
Blackburn, Bailey's sister-in-law and Floyd County Drug Court Case Specialist, said Bailey's move to become a firefighter "kind of started out as a joke."
"We all joined all at one time," Blackburn said. "We were all friends and we decided to take on the man's world. It was something that almost kind of started out as a joke. Peggy and Teddi trained as EMTs in 1980. That again, was pretty much a man's world. Peggy would be very calm during whatever was going on, then she'd start shaking after it was all over with."
Bailey's grandfather, father and brother all served as fire chiefs in Prestonsburg. Bailey grew up around the fire station, Blackburn said.
"She was an exceptional daughter, a great mother, a fantastic sister-in-law and one of the best friends you could ever have," Blackburn said. "She was a devoted worker. One thing I can say is that the concerns of any other employee were always her problem, too. A lot of the time, she and I would sit and talk in her office. She carried a lot of care for the other employees."
Bailey took the city clerk position in 2000 and retired because of her illness in April. Sharon Schoolcraft was appointed as her replacement.
"One thing that stands out more than anything else is that she was the same all the time," said Sue Joyce, retired city clerk who was replaced by Bailey in 2000. "She was never a moody person. She was just a people person."
Joyce said Bailey remained optimistic after she fell sick.
"When we talked about it, she didn't seem too awfully worried," Joyce said. "When you talked to her, she always tried to be very pleasant. She was never down. She never acted like she wanted sympathy. She was a very outgoing person."
Bailey is survived by her daughter, Ashley.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Carter Funeral Home. Visitation is scheduled today from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society.