MACON, Ga.––Thomas Roy Lifsey, 82, one of the early champions of UM Men, died Jan. 6, 2014, following an extended illness.
Born Oct. 11, 1931, to the late James Fred Lifsey and the late Mildred Self Lifsey, Roy was a U. S. Coast Guard veteran, and a retired Civil Service employee of Warner Robins Air Force Base.
After the Board of Discipleship created a section on UM Men, Roy recruited Jim Snead, director of the South Georgia Conference Council on Ministries to serve as the first staff executive of the new section. There were only 3,000 units when Snead was named head of the men’s section in 1974. At his 1995 retirement there were more than 10,000 chartered units.
“Roy and Dale Waymire made United Methodist Men what it is today,” said Robert Powell, former president of the UM Men Foundation. “Dale wrote most of the legislation and Roy spoke to a 1996 General Conference subcommittee studying the proposal for the creation of the General Commission on UM Men.”
“No one thought delegates would approve the formation of an additional agency, but thanks the efforts of Dale and Roy, the commission was approved,” said Powell, who also served as a spokesman for the commission during the 10-day legislative assembly in Denver.
In 1980, Roy was elected chairman of the Section on UM Men in the General Board of Discipleship and was one of the architects of the 1981 National Congress of UM Men attended by 5,400 men. Under the leadership of Roy, Dale and Jim, the men introduced the Every Man Shares (EMS) program and early gifts totaled $61,000.
Roy was reelected to a second 4-year term as chairman of the men’s section in 1984.
In 1989, the foundation created the John Wesley Society to support scouting and men’s ministry. Dale and Roy were the first to be inducted following their $1,000 gifts to the foundation.
“Roy told me that he was the second John Wesley fellow even though he said ‘yes’; first,” said Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the commission. “Roy said Dale was faster with the check.”
Today there are 771 members of the John Wesley Society.
Roy served as chair of the publicity committee of the foundation. “One of the many gifts he brought was strong desire to make anything the foundation sent out as clear as possible,” said Hanke. “Roy understood that we were usually sending materials to men who knew nothing about the workings of UM Men or the foundation, and so he helped us chose our words carefully.”
While Roy refused to use e-mail, people at his memorial service referred to him as a “visionary.” He was famous for his new ideas, from retreats to Bible studies, to scholarships. He was the architect of the “Bishop’s Invitational,” a men’s event for the Alabama-West Florida, South Georgia and Florida Conferences.
Roy also helped establish the G. Ross Freeman Society, an organization of presidents of UM Men in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. He served as first chairman of the organization that honors pastors who are engaged in men’s ministry. The foundation also issues James Awards to lay persons who are “doers” of the word and not “hearers only.”
Roy is survived by his wife, Ima Jean Harper Lifsey; daughter Connie Sue Rouis of Warner Robins, Ga.; son: Brian Thomas Lifsey of Centerville, and four grandchildren.