‘A special person'
Hale said he is not sure what kept him in one place for more than 50 years, other than his commitment to his ministerial call and his love for the church. He said being able to raise sons Michael and Barry and daughter Melinda Sims in one city was beneficial. He also said his wife enjoyed serving at the church in several capacities and enjoys a popularity of her own among church members.
“I tell people they might have let me move, but they weren't going to let her move and I wasn't going to move without her,” he said, smiling.
Hale said he thinks his longevity as Southwest's pulpit minister could be attributed to his general role as a peacemaker.
Longtime friends said the minister has special qualities that came to the forefront over the years.
Stafford North, distinguished professor of Bible at Oklahoma Christian University, said he has known Hale since they attended college together in the 1940s.
“He's a good preacher in the pulpit, but he also works well with people in other church work,” North said.
Lloyd Gramling, a Southwest Church of Christ member for 35 years, said Hale has a talent and desire to serve people and also has a remarkable memory. He described the minister as a “great Gospel preacher” who is knowledgeable of biblical issues and knows how to convey them.
“To be able to stay at one location through the years, it just takes somebody with special talents to keep people going the right direction, not quarreling and trying to split the church. He's just a very special person,” said Gramling, a former Oklahoma City police chief and mayor of Newcastle.