People: Former minister Norman Hagley retires - again

July 19, 2004|TIM WISEMAN

When Dr. Norman Hagley retired two years ago, he thought it was for good. This time, it will be.

Hagley has spent the last two years working as the first chief mission officer for Ephraim McDowell Health System, a position he came out of retirement to take. Hagley said he is ready to move on to something, and somewhere else, but he will miss the communities he came to know in Danville.

"It's hard to leave a town you love; it's hard to cut ties," said Hagley, who was pastor at First Christian Church from 1986 to 2000.

"I got to work within two communities - the church and hospital - and I'm going to miss a lot of people."


In the next few months, Hagley and his wife Janet will be moving to Granbury, Texas, where they will be within an hour of two of their children and four of their grandchildren.

"It will be a whole new experience," Hagley said. "I have always looked for new things to do."

When Hagley was a junior in high school in Zanesville, Ohio, a friend asked him to try something new - Sunday school.

"I could probably count on my hands the times I had been to church back then," Hagley said.

That trip made a difference and Hagley kept coming back. By his senior year of high school, he knew he wanted to be a minister.

"I know it's cliche, but I felt a calling," Hagley said.

After 23 years as a pastor in Ohio and Nebraska, Hagley came to Danville to become pastor of First Christian Church. In 2000, Hagley felt like it was time to step aside and try something new again.

"There comes a point when you know you're through," he said. "I always told myself I would not be one of those pastors that hang on and hang on. I was at the age where I could retire, so I did."

He became McDowell's first full-time chaplain

Wanting to stay involved in the community, Hagley became the first full-time chaplain at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center. The position was new to everyone, so it was a difficult, but exciting, learning experience, he said.

After 18 months as chaplain, Hagley said he was "tired" and ready to retire.

Four months later, he received a call from Clark Taylor, CEO for Ephraim McDowell Health System, who wanted to see if Hagley was interested in another new experience.

Taylor wanted to create the position of chief mission officer, whose job it would be to help the system fulfill its mission statement. Taylor had heard great things about Hagley and thought he would be perfect for the job.

"At our first meeting, he was really looking puzzled about what this job would be," Taylor said. "He went home and thought about it and said, 'I'm not sure what I am doing, but let's do it.'"

As chief mission officer, Hagley has led training sessions for all the associates in the system's hospitals. The classes help employees understand "the difference between working on a job and working with a mission," Taylor said.

"Norman to me is the kind of guy who personifies the Norman Rockwell image of medicine and healing," Taylor said. "He leaves that sense of spirit embedded in everyone he meets, they say, I want to represent that also."

Hagley said he has enjoyed learning the new position, especially being able to design a curriculum for the training seminars.

"Most satisfying is I can still learn, still stretch my mind, and share some things with others," he said.

Still, he said he knows the time is right to move on, even though it will be hard.

"In my situation, I can sit here and do two things - I can grieve about all that I am leaving behind or I can look forward to a whole lot," he said. "I have a lot to look forward to."

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