Dover’s Walter Bagley Hall continues legacy of giving

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Walter Bagley Hall, on Walker Road in Dover, is a long-term housing facility for those whose time at the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing’s homeless shelter has expired. It was formally dedicated Friday to the late DIMH staff member. (Delaware State News/Arshon Howard)

DOVER — Walter Bagley always had a dedication and passion to help anyone in need.

“I knew him at our careers at Safeway nearly 40 years ago,” said Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen.

“We never agreed on the issues of religion, politics or how fast I did my work, but I always admired his dedication to the poor and hungry of our community.”

Mr. Bagley, of Dover, died in 2013, but his legacy lives on with Walter Bagley Hall, Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing’s latest project at 1155 Walker Road in Dover.

Walter Bagley Hall offers 30 men affordable housing as they transition out of the men’s shelter and work to save money.

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This past January saw the first occupants of Walter Bagley Hall.

It was formally dedicated on Friday.

Mr. Bagley was a Dover Interfaith treasurer and an advocate of getting the project completed before he passed away.

The building was acquired in April 2013. Mr. Bagley passed away in July of that year.

“We were already planning when he passed,” said Jeanine Kleimo, chairwoman of the organization’s board of directors.

“I know he really wanted to see it come to fruition and we just thought the best thing to do was to the name the building after him in his honor.”

The most recent tenant in the building was Catholic Charities, which occupied it for 11 years.

Much of the furniture was donated from Dover Air Force Base dormitories and the former Comfort Inn on Loockerman Street. The bedspreads were donated from a North Carolina-based company, FabriTex, which also supplied the bed coverings in the men’s shelter.

Inez Bagley said her late husband would be proud if he had a chance to see the finished product.

“He would feel honored knowing that they named the building after him,” Mrs. Bagley said.

“I didn’t even know that they were going to do that. But I was pleased and shocked when they told me and it makes me feel great knowing that his legacy will continue to live on.”

Mr. Bagley’s parents were Salvation Army officers, and it was always in his nature to help people in need.

“He’s always been a giver,” said his son Michael. “He’s always been passionate about helping people. There are many times when he went without, so others can have.

“He helped collect the kettles with his parents and sometimes even gave some of his Christmas gifts so others can have some.”

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Walter Bagley’s wife Inez and son Michael Bagley celebrated the opening of Walter Bagley Hall Friday afternoon.

Dover Interfaith began in 2008 by providing temporary shelter for homeless men in Dover. It has been a short-term solution, as there wasn’t a place where men could stay for the extended time often needed to help them get back on their feet.

The late Mr. Bagley and Dover Interfaith members helped come up with the idea for the facility.

“It’s a great place,” Ms. Kleimo said. “It’s affordable for men, as it may be difficult for them to find a long-term place, due to them being in prison, or just their background in general. With this building they have a secure place while they get back on their feet.”

Residents pay a single monthly fee that covers all housing costs and two meals daily.

Most have single or double rooms, and common living and dining areas are provided, along with shared bathroom and laundry facilities.

Ms. Kleimo said she can imagine Mr. Bagley hanging out in the living room with the men.

“That’s just the type of person he was,” Ms. Kleimo said. “He was a really dedicated to these men. He was a loving man. He was like a father figure to many of these guys.”

All rooms are furnished with beds, drawers and desks.

Bagley Hall, which saw its first occupants this past January, includes showers, a small kitchen area with a refrigerator and an area set up with computers for residents.

The first floor, which has been outfitted with a ramp in the back, is completely accessible for residents with disabilities.

In the kitchen, breakfast and dinner will be cooked by Ivey Wilson, who is the facility’s cook and maintenance man.

“I make sure they stick to the rules,” Mr. Wilson said. “I try to keep everyone in line. No drugs, drinking or smoking is allowed.

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Ivey Wilson, cook and maintenance man at Walter Bagley Hall in Dover, says he’s living proof that the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing program works.

“Overnight guests aren’t allowed as well. Women aren’t permitted in the individual rooms,” he said.

“I just try to make sure everything runs smoothly.”

Mr. Wilson, once homeless himself, said the program may not work for everybody, but he’s proof that it works for somebody.

“I got in a situation and I thought this place would never be for me,” Mr. Wilson said. “It was a place that I rolled by instead of stopping by.

“When I got through with my court case, I lost everything. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. This place helped me a lot.”

Mr. Wilson said having structure is the key to getting over any obstacle in life.

“The DIMH helped me with that,” he said. “I think that’s helped other men get over the hump as well.

“My train of thinking was backwards. I thought it was important to be served. Now I know it’s important to be a servant and I learned all that through the mission.”

Michael Bagley said the building always will remind him of his father.

“It’s a proud day for the Bagley family,” he said. “Even though we lost him two years ago, when I look at this building I will always think of him.

“When I look at the Dover Interfaith Mission, I’ll always think of him because as a man that gave a lot to others growing up, he’s still doing that even after he has left us,” Mr. Bagley said.

“He’s still giving.”

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