Dena Gail Norman Hays met her Savior face to face on Saturday November 11, 2017 after a lengthy illness with breast cancer. A celebration of her life will be held Tuesday, November 14, 2:00 p.m. at Mobberly Baptist Church. Family will receive friends at 1:00 p.m. November 14, prior to the service. Dena was born December 29, 1939 in McKnight, Texas, to Gracie and Selton Norman. She attended Laneville schools, graduating in 1957. There she met her high school sweetheart and the love of her life, Jimmy Hays. Shortly after her graduation, they married on December 14, 1957.
In a few short weeks, they would have celebrated 60 years of marriage. Together they raised three sons James, Jerry, Jeff and a daughter, Rhonda. Life was busy at their home, and she loved to serve her family. She was so involved in her children's lives. It was obvious, in so many aspects, that she was their biggest fan.
Her greatest joys in life were her family and friends. She was a devoted and praying wife, mom, and grandmother, always believing in God's promise of answering prayers according to His will. Many times she would remind her family that in life's situations that seemed unfair or impossible that “as long as there was breath in person, there was hope of change or better times.”
She lived her life to serve God, others and her family. She was a Sunday school teacher at Calvary Baptist Church in Longview during the years she was raising her children. She continued teaching Sunday school and GA's to youth during her years at Greggton First Baptist Church. She felt it most important to share her faith and love with young girls through this ministry. She volunteered for many years delivering meals for the Meals on Wheels program, as well as volunteering for hospice for several years. Most recently she and her husband Jim were actively involved in Mobberly Baptist Church and loved their small group and many friends at Mobberly. She traveled on mission and service trips with the senior group, continuing to travel and minister even during her battle with cancer.
Her will and determination to live life to the fullest, to share the love of God, and to spend many happy days with her family could not be destroyed by cancer. Many days she felt so poorly, yet she continued to move forward and embrace each day as a blessing. Her most treasured words during her illness were “One day at a time,” and “God has me in His hands.” Those words will bring peace and comfort to our family always.
She was the strongest woman and the glue that held our family together. She loved nothing more than to have all her family together for meals, fellowship, and celebrations. Family meant everything to her. She supported her children and grandchildren in every sporting event, dance performance, and never missed anything that she was healthy enough to attend. She was truly our biggest fan and supporter. Shopping with her daughter and granddaughters brought many wonderful, fun times together on trips to Dallas and NYC. Our times together will forever be so special.
She was a godly wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend. She leaves a legacy of love and compassion to all who were blessed to know her. She was preceded in death by her parents, Gracie and Selton Norman, and her first-born son, James Lynn Hays; sisters, Isabel Rochelle and Marybeth Conway; brothers, Sonny Norman and Joe Norman.
Survivors include her husband of 60 years, Jim Hays; daughter Rhonda Bybel and husband Bill; sons, Jerry Hays and Jeff Hays; sister Linda Watkins and husband Bobby; sister-in-law Edna Norman; grandchildren, Emily Bybel Conner and husband Perry, Abbey Bybel and fiance’ Adam Thompson, Jamason Hays, Kimber Hays, Meagan Hays, Mason Hays, Darcie Hays, and Branson Hays; her beloved nieces and nephews, and a host of beautiful, loving friends.
Pallbearers include Bill Bybel, Perry Conner, Branson Hays, Kevin Morris, Richie Spencer and Adam Thompson.
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