Catherine L. Hayley, 71, employee of Social Security, parishioner

August 08, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Catherine L. Hayley filled many roles during her more than 40 years at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, including deacon, pianist, secretary and loyal member.

But perhaps the role she filled best was "pastor's keeper." If the Rev. Curtis A. Jones' voice was coarse, she'd have throat lozenges; if his robe was frayed, she'd let him know.

"She stayed on me about a number of things but always in a loving way," Mr. Jones said. "And she didn't mince words, she loved to mix it up."

Mrs. Hayley, who died Sundayof cancer at Sinai Hospital at 71, felt the pastor often spent too much time greeting parishioners after church, instead of going straight to the post-service snack.

"She was so concerned that I spent so much time at the door [talking to members] and that the food would be gone once I got back for the repast," Mr. Jones said.

He was particularly hungry after service one Sunday but apparently missed his chance for food. To make matters worse, he had to confront Mrs. Hayley.

"She said, 'If you hadn't spent so much time at the front, you'd have some food,' " Mr. Jones said. "I asked her why she was always beating up on me, and she said because she loved me."

Then she pulled a plate of food from behind her back, smiled and gave it to her pastor. "That's just how she was. She always did things in a caring way," he said.

Born Catherine Thomas in Media, Pa., she moved to Baltimore in 1949 with her husband, Harold P. Hayley Sr., whom she married in 1945. Since 1950 she lived on Braddish Avenue in the Walbrook neighborhood near Coppin State College. Mr. Hayley died in 1982.

She began work at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn in 1949 and retired in 1968.

She was also active in keeping her community clean, and spent many hours -- including cold winter days -- sweeping the gutters and alleys.

"It's just something she cared about and because she wanted things to look right," said her son Harold P. Hayley Jr. of Baltimore. "She took pride in her home and community. She'd be out there in that old beat-up windbreaker -- she used things until they died -- trying to make sure everything was clean."

At the church, she kept her pastor on his toes. She once complained about a fraying white robe that Mr. Jones wore during sermons and jokingly said she didn't want to see him wear it again.

"You know, I think I'm going to wear that robe to the funeral," Mr. Jones said.

Services will be held at 11: 30 a.m. today at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, 2110 Madison Ave. in West Baltimore.

Other survivors include another son, Walter E. Hayley III of Columbia; and two grandchildren, Kehyannah Hayley of Pasadena and Rashanikka Hayley of Columbia.

Pub Date: 8/08/96

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