FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Although Cory Hailey often talked about not knowing exactly what his future ministry would be, the 27-year-old seminary student knew God had called him to minister and that he would go wherever the call led.
The call led home to heaven in late September. Hailey’s body was discovered in his seminary apartment Sept. 27 at about 4 p.m.
Fort Worth police said Hailey, a newswriter in the public relations office at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, died from natural causes. The exact cause of death has not yet been determined.
Since November 1998, Hailey’s byline has appeared on nearly 60 Baptist Press stories, many of which have been run in Baptist state papers across the nation. His stories covered some of the most significant events and people in Southwestern history, including the shooting at Wedgwood Baptist Church and the deaths of such key figures as Robert Naylor, John Newport and W.R. Estep.
Prior to coming to Southwestern, Hailey worked at The Battle Mountain Bugle in Battle Mountain, Nev. His love of writing extended past journalism. Hailey was working on a science fiction novel and often wrote poetry.
His co-workers in the public relations office remembered him as a quiet, intellectual man with an incredible memory and a deep desire to do God’s will.
“A keen mind, profound intellect, sharp wit, inspirational poet and insightful writer has gone home to rest way before anyone could have anticipated, but God knows best,” said Derick Wilson.
Hailey, who was about halfway through the master of divinity with biblical languages program, earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Nevada and spent a year at Baylor University law school.
Barbara Johnson,* a co-worker and classmate, said she noticed the joy seminary classes brought to Hailey and the diligence Hailey brought to every class.
“He always sat ready with notebook open and pen in hand, eager for the professor’s first words,” Jackson said. “It was as if he were seated at the theater on opening day of a movie he couldn’t wait to see.
“I don’t believe he took the seminary experience lightly. Every class was important to Cory.”
An excellent student, Hailey was a member of Southwestern’s first chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, an honor society for theology students.
Usually a reserved and private person, Hailey also was quick to do impressions of Winston Churchill and Sean Connery. In honor of Greek professor Curtis Vaughn’s last class, Hailey wrote a humorous poem about the travails of learning Greek. The poem, based on Psalm 23, began, “Greek is my shepherd; I shall not sleep. It maketh me to lie down at 3:00 a.m. It leadeth me beside the periphrastic constructions.”
Hailey often spoke with co-workers about where he felt God was leading him in ministry. In recent weeks, he had spoken of becoming a New Testament professor or a missionary to Israel.
Hailey attended Gambrell Street Baptist Church and had recently begun to lead a Friday night Bible study for singles.
“Southwestern has lost a good friend. Southern Baptists have lost a bright, young scholar,” said David Porter, Southwestern’s public relations director.
Hailey is survived by his parents, Theodore and Nancy Hailey of Casper, Wyo.; a brother, Jeremy Hailey of Red Lodge, Mont.; and a sister, Teecee Greenhalgh of Silverdale, Wash.
*Name changed for security considerations.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo title: CORY HAILEY.