Keith Bailey always had something nice to say, was generous and never fretted even in the face of a life-ending illness.
"In the months before he died he had an epiphany: You have one time on Earth, share it and be the best you can to make a difference for other people," his twin, Kevin Bailey, said Thursday.
Keith Bailey, 55, of Central Islip, died Aug. 30 after a brief illness while on vacation in Kissimmee, Fla., with his family.
"He died in my arms," Bailey, of Bay Shore, said. "My best friend ever: humble, strong, a proud friend, father and brother; he was wonderful and always had faith."
Keith Donnell Bailey was born Dec. 1, 1957, at Huntington Hospital, six minutes before his brother, the 13th of 15 children born to John C. Bailey Sr. and Margaret M. Bailey.
Raised in Huntington Station, Bailey went through the South Huntington School district, graduating in 1975 from Walt Whitman High School. He attended Post College of Waterbury, Conn., on a basketball scholarship.
He spent a great portion of his professional career in the mortgage banking industry, most recently working as a self-employed mortgage banking consultant.
Kevin Bailey said his brother was a devoted father who spent endless hours with his children helping with homework and getting them to their activities. He and his second wife, Nordea, loved to spend time together gardening, entertaining and relaxing in their back yard listening to R&B classics and golden oldies.
In his spare time Bailey also enjoyed drawing, singing and writing poetry. A lifelong commitment to a fitness regimen along with many years of playing basketball on the hard courts of Long Island contributed to his magnificent signature physique, Kevin Bailey said.
"But his massive biceps were dwarfed by the size of his giving heart," Bailey said.
In addition to his brother, he is survived by his wife, Nordea Harrison-Bailey and his children, Lesandra, Eboni, Jasmine, and Keith Bailey Jr., all of Central Islip; eight siblings; and a host of other relatives.
A wake will be held Saturday at M.A. Connell Funeral Home, 934 New York Ave., Huntington Station, from 5 to 9 p.m. On Sunday, a viewing will be held from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Bethesda Seventh-day Adventist Church, 76 Parkway Ave. in Amityville. A funeral will immediately follow. Burial will be at Huntington Rural Cemetery.