Edith L. Yates Henderson, 67 of Lakeland, FL, died with her husband David Henderson on November 10th, 2020. She was born in Chickasha, OK on February 7th, 1953 to George Yates and Helen Vandivier Yates. Her family moved to Lakeland in 1957 following her great grandparents, who lived in nearby Auburndale.
Edie, as everyone called her, attended Lakeland Senior High School, and graduated in 1971. In high school, Edie met her first husband Steve Baylis while the two were running for student government (Edie was running for president and Steve was running for vice president). Afterwards, she attended Florida Southern College and was only one class away from a degree in Music before changing course and majoring in Accounting, where she received the Most Outstanding Accounting Major Award. In November of 1976, she and Steve were married and had their first and only son, Todd, in 1983. In 1980, Edie founded Baylis & Company, an accounting firm, and Steve joined soon thereafter. After Steve passed away in 2010 from cancer, she served as managing partner of Baylis & Company.
Edie was well known in the community of Lakeland. She was often described as a trail blazer for professional women, as she was the “first” woman to capture previously male-dominated positions within the community, beginning at LHS as the first female student body President. Soon after, Edie became the first female staff member of an international accounting firm in Tampa and the first female President of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She served on many boards, taking leadership roles in most, including the National Board for Campfire USA, and locally for Campfire USA Sunshine Council, Children’s Home Society, Estate Planning Council of Polk County, Junior League of Greater Lakeland, Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, Lakeland Regional Medical Center Foundation, Lakeland Vision, League of Women Voters of Polk County, Polk Businesses for World Class Education, Habitat for Humanity, and United Way of Central Florida. Edie was an Alumni of Leadership Lakeland Class IV. She was the recipient of the George W. Jenkins Outstanding Volunteer of the Year in 2006 and then in 2010, she was awarded the prestigious Jere Annis award by the Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association. To continue serving her community, Edie served as City Commissioner of Lakeland for three terms from 2006-2018 and diligently applied her financial knowledge to her work on the Commission.
In July of 2012, Edie married her second husband, David Henderson. The two had known each other for many years, as he was a close friend to her late husband Steve. It did not take them long to realize that their friendship had grown into much more. Together they worked on numerous projects as David was a commercial real estate developer, who had a talent for making near impossible projects a reality. These projects included developing a Wawa, a Hampton Inn, and a Townplace Suites that is currently under construction at Exit 19 in Plant City, FL. Their most recent passion project included buying and renovating the historic Terrace Hotel in downtown Lakeland. David and Edie loved to travel and would sneak away as often as they could. They cherished their visits to Europe, touring England, Italy, and Portugal. They often travelled out west to California, most recently last year bringing the entire family on a trip to San Francisco Bay. Together they both enjoyed sports and could frequently be found at a local Tigers game or in Tampa at a Buccaneers or Rays game.
Edie will be most remembered for her compassion, intelligence, and her calming presence that always gave confidence and an understanding to those she was around. She was a mentor to numerous professionals in the community and a role model to a multitude of women. But most importantly, she was a dedicated mother, wife, and grandmother.
Edie is survived by her son, Todd Baylis and his wife Sarah Baylis, their children Felicity and West; her stepson, William A. Henderson; her brothers: George Radford ‘Rad’ Yates (Patty); Dr. Davis Vandivier Yates (Rosemary); and the Rev. William Jeffrey ‘Bill’ Yates (Joanie); eight nieces and nephews and her extended family from her marriage to Steve Baylis.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a private family ceremony where Edie and David’s lives will be celebrated will take place on Saturday, December 5, 2020, with an anticipated livestream. There will be a celebration of life for the community to attend at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Edie’s name to one of the above organizations or your favorite charity.
Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.