‘Phantom Phenom’ Lee Bailey leads with her determination, generosity
Judge Highland Park’s Lee Bailey by what she drives or better yet by what she gives.
Either way, the repeat Rolls-Royce owner impresses people like Heath Strayhan.
“Lee is an extraordinary woman, setting the bar each day in her professional and charitable life,” said Strayhan, general manager of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Dallas.
The dealership recently honored Bailey as the Dallas Rolls-Royce Phantom Phenom, an honor doled out as part of a national campaign celebrating how the brand has evolved to include more women owners.
“Rolls-Royce, and especially the Phantom, is often thought of in masculine terms,” said publicist David Alvey, president of Aardvark Communications. “Rolls-Royce wanted to show strong women who were Rolls-Royce owners and are also successful entrepreneurs and leading philanthropists.”
“My parents were broke, but I knew their story didn’t have to be my story.”Lee Bailey
Nationwide, the brand honored nine female Roll-Royce owners.
“Phantom Phenoms exhibit an aura of presence and power reminiscent of the Rolls-Royce Phantom,” said Martin Fritsches, president and CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Americas. “Lee Bailey defined and achieved her own success, and we are honored that she has chosen a Rolls-Royce motor car to help celebrate that success.”
The Dallas dealership held an intimate dinner for Bailey at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, where she donated $5,000 to the After-School All-Stars North Texas as part of the North Texas Giving Day campaign.
The nonprofit agency provides programming to more than 850 students per year at six high-needs schools across Dallas County.
Bailey also has supported the Ronald McDonald House, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA), Kidney Texas Inc., the Nexus Women’s Auxiliary, Operation Kindness, and Rescue Me DFW.
During an After-School All-Stars video call from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Dallas, she challenged middle school students to aim high.
“You can be whatever you choose to be,” she said. “My parents were broke, but I knew their story didn’t have to be my story.”
The Ohio native studied fashion merchandising in Virginia, a college major that didn’t provide immediate career success.
“I waited tables at a truck stop in Ohio with a college degree because there were no job opportunities,” she said. “There’s no shame in working any job! As long as it’s honest, good hard work, you can do it.”
In 1984, she and her husband moved with their two toddlers to Dallas and opened a McDonald’s franchise, the first of their 63 McDonald’s franchises across North Texas.
“We worked so much we really didn’t take vacations,” she told the students. “We spent so much time traveling between our stores, so we poured our passion into cars.”
Justin Hensley, interim executive director of After-School All-Stars North Texas, said members of the Career Exploration Opportunities club enjoyed learning from Bailey.
“Our All-Stars connected with Lee on her story of growth through entrepreneurship, listened to the wisdom she learned on her journey, and relished in the opportunity to explore amazing and unique cars with a true aficionado,” he said.
Some more of that Bailey wisdom: “Don’t forget to laugh at yourself. And always be grateful.”
For nearly 40 years, People Newspapers has worked tirelessly to tell the stories—good, bad, and sublime—of our neighbors in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. To support our efforts, please contact [email protected] for advertising opportunities. Please also consider sharing this story with your friends and social media followers.