Pastor at Faith Christian Family Church dies
EUREKA SPRINGS -- Pastor Gary Hayhurst of Faith Christian Family Church and a Paul Harris Fellow of the Eureka Springs Rotary Club died at his home in Eureka Springs on Sunday, Sept. 10 after a struggle with cancer. He was 66.
By all accounts, Pastor Hayhurst lived a life dedicated to word of God as a devoted "better world builder" and teacher of God's word.
He was born in Bishop, Calif., and moved to Oak Grove with his family when he was a child.
He graduated from Green Forest High School, was a member of the Arkansas Army National Guard and worked for KTHS for many years before he surrendered his life to the Lord and became a pastor through the Rhema Bible Training College in Broken Arrow, Okla.
He was the youth minister at Green Forest Assembly of God before he became the pastor at the Faith Christian Family Church in 1979, where he ministered until his passing.
"I met Gary in 1981 -- he was my pastor and a very close friend," said Patty Sanders. "You could never find a man that was more kind, more loving and more forgiving than Gary."
"When I lived in Oak Grove a big snow storm came in and my husband was gone to work and I was without water, heat and power and Gary and his wife, Debbie, drove out to me in the middle of the night to bring me a kerosene heater, food and take me somewhere warm," Sanders added.
Through his ministry, he founded the Academy of Excellence in Eureka Springs, dedicated to providing quality education and spiritual guidance.
"He was the guy that was always happy, always smiling and always upbeat and If I had to use one word to describe him I would say he was encouraging," said Academy Superintendent Wayne Carr. "He would do anything for anybody -- he was very generous and was always there to help. He was a better world builder and he a vision for his church and his community. It was his purpose and he worked on it everyday."
"Pastor Gary is an exceptional pastor and not only was he excellent in his delivery of preaching God's word, he loved people. He was a very positive, kind and gracious and he will be missed in our community," said Marvin Peterson, fellow Rotarian and friend.
Hayhurst is survived by his wife, Debbie, of 46 years; two daughters Shawna Rascone and Jill Hayhurst-Davis and two grandchildren, Garrett, 7 and Andi, 6.
Visitation will be held at Nelson's Funeral Home on Wednesday.
Memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 12 at Faith Christian Family Church in Eureka Springs, followed by interment at Hale Cemetary in Oak Grove.
The Rev. Tony Cook of Tulsa, Okla., will be officiating with the Rev. Marvin Peterson assisting.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.nelsonfuneral.com.