James Harlin (“Jim”) Hale, 88, longtime Grove-area builder and Christian man of faith, died on Monday, March 2, 2020, at Hillcrest Oklahoma Heart Institute in Tulsa, leaving a host of family and friends to mourn his passing.
Jim Hale lived his faith deeply and constantly. By example and testimony, Jim touched the lives of many.
To his family, he was a patriarch with a gentle hand and loving guidance. Nothing pleased him more than showing a grandchild or great-grandchild how to fish or shoot. His brothers and sisters loved to hear about his early days growing up in Delaware County. For one brother, Jim invested his military salary to fund the brother’s first year of college education. He also took in a sister for a summer as she worked to earn money for college. Jim’s children aspire to reflect his values each day.
To his many friends, Jim was a source of comfort in time of trial and an inspiration for living lives of compassion, kindness, tenderness and love. He used humor to build bridges with people, enjoying the smiles and laughs that ensued. Almost all of his friends have a favorite story about Jim. In his last days in the hospital, he was quick to engage with nurses about his Christian faith.
Born February 10, 1932, Jim was the first child of his beloved parents, Jess and Grace Hale, of the Zena area. He attended school until the eighth grade in the Delaware country school, walking through the hills and hollows from the family homeplace. He then attended and graduated from high school in Grove.
Following graduation, he enlisted in the Air Force and became a master at aircraft repair. He was stationed in England, making numerous flights into Germany and other parts of Europe. After his honorable discharge, he worked at the Boeing Company in Wichita, Kansas, where he met his first wife, Sharon Harris, and mother of his four children.
Moving back to Oklahoma, Jim took up his father’s life work of brick and stone masonry, quickly establishing a reputation for excellent craftsmanship and fair dealing. He worked on many construction projects, from Tulsa to Grove to Sand Springs to Sapulpa and beyond. Jim eventually founded the Hale Construction Company and served as general contractor for numerous projects until retirement in 2003. Among his many projects, he built beautiful homes for his two sisters and a brother.
In 1978, Jim was married to JoAnn Moffitt, who became a full partner in his life, work and Christian ministry. The two played key roles at numerous churches in the area, with Jim teaching the Scriptures and JoAnn sharing her musical gifts.
Following retirement, Jim took great pleasure in his enormous and productive garden near Zena – a testimony to his understanding of plant science, watering technology, and attention to detail. His rich harvests of tomatoes and other vegetables were shared with grateful customers at his plant stand at home.
Jim also was passionate about coon-hunting and spent many nights hunting with his well-trained Walker hounds. He often was joined by family members or friends on these night-time pursuits.
In recent years, Jim has been instrumental in renovating the small church, Zena Bible Church, which he and his father built in the 1950s on the family’s homeplace for use by the community. As part of the renovation, he re-discovered his name inscribed in concrete, but hidden for all those years.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Jess and Grace Hale, and an infant brother George. He is survived by his wife JoAnn of the home, and four children: Ronda Seidenberger (Steve) of Eucha, OK; Letaza Dutton (James) of Tulsa, OK; Harlin Hale (Jennifer) of Colcord, OK, and David Hale (Jennifer) of Grove, OK. He also is survived by two sisters, Darlene Sanders (Larry) and Pauline Hale (Jim Corbridge), both of Grove; and two brothers, Carl Hale (Sue Beth) of Tulsa and Bill Hale (Renee) of Zena. He also is survived by a step-daughter Lori Futhey of Grenola, KS, and step-son David Lazelle of Bogulusa, LA, as well as numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, March 6, at 2 p.m. at Delaware Baptist Church, with the Rev. Gary Bishop officiating. Visitation will be held at Worley-Luginbuel Funeral Home on Thursday, March 5, from 6 – 8 p.m. Pallbearers include Mike Reed, Craig Schaefer, Greg Epperson, Sonny Bartley, Tommy Brice, Levi Pritchard, Norman Easter and Rusty Pritchard. Honorary pallbearers are Ron Lay, Jerry Dobbs, Jim Corbridge, Tommy Caudill, Larry Sanders, Rick Howard, Rick Pritchard, Rodney Edmondson and the late Trigger Cooper.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Zena Bible Church building fund, a cause near and dear to Jim’s heart. Donations may be sent to Zena Bible Church, c/o P.O. Box 450902, Grove, OK 74345.