During the 29 years of their marriage, Kathy Bailey had driven her husband to a lot of airports, not only the one in Boston, but also ones in other places they lived like Washington D.C., Detroit, St. Louis and Edmonton. These all were cities where Ace Bailey played hockey, including as a member of a couple of Boston Bruins teams that won Stanley Cups and also as a roommate and fierce protector of an 18-year-old rookie named Wayne Gretzky when Gretzky was breaking in for the Edmonton Oilers of the World Hockey Association during the 1978-79 season. Ace Bailey was now 53, and he was the director of professional scouting for the Kings, who were opening training camp that day at their El Segundo facility. “Ace had me set an alarm clock, but he woke up before it went off and I was the one who overslept,” related Kathy Bailey. “I remember Ace waking me up and saying, `We gotta get going.’ I now wish it had been him who overslept.” Everything was uneventful for Kathy Bailey early that Sept. 11, 2001 morning, as she dropped her husband off at the airport, kissed him good-bye, and returned to their suburban home 20 minutes north of Boston in a hamlet called Lynnfield. “I came home, made some coffee, and turned on the TV to watch the Today show,” she says. “But then it suddenly was interrupted when that first airplane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. “Our son Todd came over, and we watched in amazement as another plane crashed into the other World Trade Center tower.” At exactly 9:02:59, a 767-200 Boeing, flight 175 from Boston carrying 56 passengers – including five terrorists with knives and box cutters – and a crew of nine, tore into the south tower of the WTC. “We had no idea that dad was on that plane,” says Kathy. “I had no thought he was in harm’s way because his plane was headed for L.A. I would soon find out the awful truth.” Ace Bailey would be one of the 2,974 people to die from the terrorists’ suicide attacks that dark day six years ago that caused so much sorrow in this country and dramatically altered the international political landscape. “At first, I just couldn’t believe it,” says Kathy Bailey. “It’s just hard to accept your husband walking out the door, and never returning. I kept expecting him to return home any moment, but it never happened. “Ace was such a good man, and he was so full of life. Obviously, it was such a shocking thing to lose someone in that manner that you love so much, and it was terribly difficult for a long time. “After a while, you learn to live with it, and there are times when I can just hear Ace telling me, `Get going. Start doing things. Life goes on.’ “And it has, but you have to make a concerted effort to bring happiness into your life. The suddenness of it all still defies comprehension. One moment you’re saying bye to your husband at the airport and the next moment you’re watching a plane he’s on crashing into a building. It was all a little unreal. “But something good has come out of the tragedy.” That something good is the Ace Bailey Children’s Foundation, which has raised more than $1 million and refurbished a 6,500-square foot room that is now called Ace’s Place at the Floating Hospital for Children at the Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston. “It’s a playroom for kids, and there is something there to do for kids of all ages,” says Kathy proudly. “The older kids have air-hockey they can play, and the younger ones have various toys and other things. Ace always loved kids. We always said he was a big kid who never grew up.” On the day of the 9-11 tragedy, Kathy Bailey’s sister, Barbara Pothier, came over to console her – and wound up staying for a year. “Barbara was all set to go to work at a new job, but she wound up becoming the executive director of Ace’s foundation,” she says. “Our family wanted to do something in Ace’s memory, and we thought something that would help children would be what he would have wanted. “And it’s really worked out well. The foundation is now going to help refurbish the neonatal intensive care unit at the children’s hospital. The Boston Bruins and L.A. Kings have been very supportive, as have so many people.” A native of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Ace Bailey, a forward, played in the NHL season for 10 seasons, scoring 107 goals, collecting 171 assistants and amassing 633 penalty minutes. “Ace was a hard-nosed player who didn’t back down to anyone,” said Dave Taylor, the Kings’ former general manger who is now the director of player personnel for the Dallas Stars. “Ace was just a terrific guy, popular with everyone,” said Bob Miller, the Kings’ longtime announcer. “Ace was a great big teddy bear, but he was no shrinking violet,” said Kathy Bailey. “We don’t have any information on what happened on that plane. But if Ace had sensed something was wrong, he would have tried to do something about it. He was a person who protected his turf. There’s just no way he would just sit there and do nothing.” Kathy Bailey was a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines in 1970, when she met Ace Bailey as the Bruins were returning to Boston after playing a game in New York. “The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in May of 1972 and we got married in June,” she said. They had one son, Todd, 29, who recently got married. “Ace wound up playing for several teams and became very good friends with Wayne Gretzky,” says Kathy. Ace Bailey served as a scout for the Oilers for 13 seasons, and wound up with five more Stanley Cup rings. Kathy Bailey today will attend a memorial service for the 9-11 victims at the State House in Boston, and then will make an appearance, along with several members of the Bruins, at Ace’s Place. “When I walk into that playroom and see all the kids with smiles on their faces, it makes me really feel good,” she says with emotion. “It’s a place where good things can come out of sadness. It is a happy oasis, and Ace’s spirit is all over that room. The terrorists might have taken away Ace, but they didn’t take away his memory.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! COMMENTARY: Ace Bailey’s wife creates a legacy for an NHL veteran who died crashing into WTC. By Doug Krikorian STAFF WRITER It began as another normal day for Kathy Bailey, as she drove her husband, Garnet (Ace) Bailey, out to Logan International Airport so he could catch his 8 a.m. United Airlines flight 175 to Los Angeles.