In memoriam: Emeritus missionary Charles Kendrick Corley, 88

Charles Corley

Charles Corley

Charles Kendrick Corley, an emeritus International Mission Board missionary who shared the gospel among Sub-Saharan African Affinity Peoples in Zimbabwe and Ghana, died Sept. 4, 2019, in Abilene, Texas. He was 88.

Charles was born April 17, 1931, on the family farm in Clyde, Texas, to Charles Frank and Ruby Kendrick Corley. He graduated from Clyde High School and earned the Bachelor of Science from Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas.

Corley wrote when seeking missionary appointment that when he was 15 years old, he heard a missionary from Africa speak in his church. At the end of that service, he said, “I walked the aisle for my Lord, surrendering to special service. This commitment was to be dormant and, at times, almost completely forgotten for many years.”

He served in the U.S. Air Force, earning the rank of First Lieutenant. After that he was to spend most of life in the Clyde/Abilene area working as a medical professional, especially as a medical technologist at the Hendrick Medical Center.

Corley married Gayla Loyce Vardeman in Abilene on June 8, 1968, and he and Gayla were members of the Southwest Park Baptist Church there for many years.

But their life in Abilene was interrupted in 1977 when Charles and Gayla were named by the Southern Baptist Foreign (now International) Mission Board as special project workers to serve about a year at Sanyati Baptist Hospital in what was then the British colony called Rhodesia.

The Corleys returned to Texas, but on July 21, 1981, were appointed as IMB missionaries to the now independent nation renamed Zimbabwe.

After serving a time at Zimbabwe’s medical school in Harare, the Corleys returned to Sanyati, working at the hospital while also involved in evangelistic and church activities in the area.

Corley is survived by his wife of 51 years, Gayla Corley of Abilene; daughter Fadzai Madyangove (Tichwona Mashambanhaka) of Abilene; brother-in-law Marlo Onn Vardeman (Victoria) of Hobbs, N.M.; sister-in-law The Rev. Dr. Brady J. Vardeman of Abilene; and two grandchildren. Charles was preceded in death by his parents and his son Charles (Chip) Vardeman Corley.

Funeral services were held Sept. 9, 2019, at the Southwest Park Baptist Church with burial in the Clyde Cemetery.

Read an obituary here.