James Burton “Jim” Gayler, 84, of Wildwood, Fla., passed away Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at his residence in Wildwood.
He was born in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Burton and Sadie Mae Gayler, one of six children.
James attended elementary school in Boynton Beach, Fla. At the age of 14, he went to Emory University Academy, where, at the age of 15, he was called to preach, and he graduated in 1946. This course of study usually requires four years to complete, but Jim accomplished it in two years. He then attended Emory Jr. College in Valdosta, Ga., where he received his AA. From there he attended Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and graduated in 1948 with a B.A. degree. His next step was at Candler School of Theology at Emory, graduating in 1953 with a Master of Divinity degree.
While living in Wilmore, Ky., he audited classes at Asbury Seminary. He received a Doctor of Ministry degree in 1977 at Luther Rice Seminary in Jacksonville, Fla. Jim and Betty have served many churches in Georgia, Florida and Kentucky. He is a member of the Florida Annual Conference, joining in 1954, and retired in 1994 from Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, Fla. Since that time he had been a part-time pastor in several churches, and frequently was asked to be a guest speaker on special Sundays. Jim was an avid reader since his retirement, and enjoyed calling, visiting and praying with friends and family.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Betty Gayler; sons, David (Winnie) Gayler and Stephen Gayler; daughter, Joy Gayler (Leslie) Wise; granddaughter, Josephine Kathryn Gayler; sibling, B.W. “Bob” (Jeanne) Gayler; and numerous nieces and nephews. Jim was preceded in death by his siblings, Nancy (Martin) Amestoy, Winfred Wade Gayler in World War II, William (Joan) Gayler and JoAnn (David) King.
Visitation will be held one hour prior to the funeral service at 2 p.m. today, Saturday, March 22, 2014, at Oxford United Methodist Church, 3906 E. County Road 466, Oxford, FL 34484. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Oxford United Methodist Church, or the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home. Online condolences may be sent via www.hiers-baxley.com.