In memory of Kay Haley

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2007

To the Editor:

When I was a young girl, my mother took me to hear the Selma Choral Society’s presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church. I was mesmerized by the music and the little lady directing the choir.

I eagerly awaited the coming of December, for it meant that again I would be uplifted by music offered to God by John Joyce, Reuben Bishop, Elvira McCrory, John Atherton and Kay Haley.

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When I was a teenager, I attended several events at First Presbyterian where I heard and watched Kay Haley play. I was in awe. However, all of this adoration was from afar, for I didn’t attend a downtown church and I attended a county school.

In God’s providence, I traveled with a group of Selmians to the Church Music Workshop sponsored by the University of Alabama in the summer of 1974.

There I was befriended by Kay, who became my mentor, my organ and conducting teacher, my encourager, my critic and my friend.

Kay would conduct and I would play for many events presented by the Selma Choral Society as well as the Selma Civic Chorus.We were a great team. I do miss my dear friend, and I am so grateful to have been loved by her.

Kay did much for First Presbyterian and St. Paul’s Episcopal School. She involved many people in the music-making of the churches.

The Presbyterian Church bought a new organ during her tenure. Each church as a rich heritage that was much influenced by Kay.

Kay did much for our community. She was instrumental in planning the Selma Civic Center complex. She was among the founders of the Selma Civic Chorus, the Selma Arts Council, and the Selma Choral Society. In fact, during one of our last conversations, she rejoiced that the Selma Choral Society was planning to celebrate its 60th year with orchestra and professional soloists in December. Her work had flourished and endured.

Kay had many gifts, but her greatest was as a choral director. People sang for her because they knew that the results would be beautiful and because they didn’t want on of her “calls.”

She knew the sound that she wanted, so she was demanding. Her little crippled hands could coax music out of the tone-deaf.

Our loss is heaven’s gain. I feel assured that she is already directing a chorus of angels. My prayer is that one day I will be in a heavenly choir with John, Reuben and others who have gone to glory, and that we will be singing “Hallelujah!” while Kay directs and Clifford Morrison plays the organ.

What a reunion that will be.

Sarah Crisman Morelock

Director of Music

First Presbyterian Church