Nicholas Bailey

Nicholas Bailey

1989 - 2023

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Obituary of Nicholas Bailey

Nicholas James Bailey, 33, of Denver


Nick Bailey, who turned his life into a global adventure, traveling across dozens of countries and making life-long friends wherever he went, died suddenly in Denver March 21. He was 33.


A graduate of Cherry Creek High School and CU Boulder, Nick grew up in Greenwood Village and quickly decided the American economic model of career advancement and acquisition of things wasn’t for him. He didn’t stay home and brood about that, however.


Instead, he did seasonal work in the states, saved his money, and then traveled abroad for months at a time. Of the more than 30 countries he visited, Nick surfed in one third of them, including Sri Lanka, Chile, Indonesia and, yes, Canada.


Wherever Nick went, he found community and friends, as became apparent to anyone who traveled with him. “Nick Bailey!” shouted someone across the lobby of the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, recalls Nick’s mother Susan Bailey, his travel companion on that trip. It was a friend Nick had made in Nepal. In Oaxaca, walking with his father, Steve Bailey, they ran into a woman Nick knew from a Goa, India, yoga school. And leaving a Neil Young concert in Santa Barbara, Nick and Steve encountered a friend Nick had surfed with in Indonesia.


Nick took in stride the bumps one encounters traveling. Putting his wallet down for a minute in a Guadalajara bodega, it disappeared. “That was my fault. Whoever took it probably needed it more than I did,” Nick explained to family.


“He lived a gig worker life,” Susan says of her son, “but shared what he had.”


Another time, Nick and hiking companions were held up at gunpoint on a Guatemalan trail, their guide knocked out cold by the bandits. But Nick was able to retrieve his phone from the bush where it had been thrown, and another hiker had a credit card hidden in a sock, and those two items allowed all the hikers to start the process of getting temporary passports and money enough to leave the country.


Traveling across Asia, his companions took a hard pass on going to Myanmar, but Nick peeled off by himself to spend weeks in the country. He was a devoted trail runner and scaler of Colorado’s 14ers, when in his home state, and climbed Ecuador’s highest peak, 20,548-foot Chimborazo (photo above).


In his earlier college years, at the University of Vermont, Nick played lacrosse and later used those skills to teach youngsters the sport.


In most recent years, Nick spent months in Rio Nexpa, Mexico, a small surfing village in the state of Michoacan, living in a hut and among other travelers drawn to the surf and simpler life. He made local friends, too. One, on Nick’s first trip to the area, warned him not to sleep under the coconut trees; others had him over for Sunday dinners. Nick and friends often traveled up and down the Pacific Coast of Mexico in search of good waves.


Nick’s family: parents Steven and Susan Bailey; sister Katherine Bailey McDonald (Myles, daughter Lucy and son Thomas); Irene Arguelles and Sienna Arguelles-Orr; maternal grandmother Anne Wynne (late grandfather Frank); paternal grandparents late Maurice and Elisabeth Bailey; uncles Jeff Bailey (Leslie) and James Wynne (Heike); cousins Sam Bailey (Kelsey), Martha Bailey (Ian Kalmes), Patrick Wynne (Claire), Brianna, Shannon, Joseph, Brendan, Brady and the late Timothy Wynne.


A celebration of Nick’s life will be held this spring.