NORMAN — James L. Hays (chaplain, colonel, USAF, Ret.) passed away at his home in Norman on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013.
Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church of Norman, 211 W. Comanche St. in Norman, with interment at 1 p.m. at Resthaven Memorial Park, 5001 E. Highland St. in Shawnee.
Jim was born May 26, 1925, in Belleville, Ark., but grew up in Seminole County, where he graduated from high school in 1942. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served during WWII as a bombardier on B29s in the South Pacific.
After the war, he returned to Seminole, married Carolyn McCoy, completed a degree at Oklahoma Baptist University and moved to Louisville, Ken., to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He then returned to active duty as a chaplain in the United States Air Force, serving at numerous bases both in the U.S. and abroad. He was an outstanding preacher and song leader, but he especially enjoyed spending time on the flight line encouraging the flight crews. After retiring as a colonel in 1977, he and Carolyn returned to Oklahoma.
Jim loved to get out on the water and fish, but he also loved sitting in his chair and reading (and he read on a very wide range of topics). He enjoyed music immensely. Frequently, sometimes even in public, and as nervous family members watched helplessly, he would start dreamily humming one of his favorite old hymns and then gradually transition into singing it aloud, oblivious to those around him.
A strong, active member of the First Baptist Church in Norman, Jim was well known for his warm and caring Christian character. Indeed, throughout his life he was always concerned for others and reached out to comfort those who needed encouragement. Loving husband and wonderful father, he also served as the caring “patriarch” for dozens within his wider extended family. He influenced hundreds of people throughout his life and, no doubt, there are many who saw him as their role model of what a Christian man should be. He enjoyed this life and projected that joy out to all who came in contact with him.