Boyd, TX – The carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of a Boyd pastor and his wife were the result of a car accidentally left running in the garage, authorities have ruled.
Jerry Worley, wife of Pastor Robert Worley, suffered bouts of forgetfulness after brain surgery and had apparently neglected to turn off the engine, said their son Randall Worley.
The retired missionaries were found Sunday evening in the parsonage at Trinity Baptist Church in Boyd. Robert Worley, 73, died Sunday, and Jerry Worley, 74, died Monday at a Fort Worth hospital.
Both deaths were classified as accidental Thursday, said an official with the Wise County Sheriffs Department, which helped Boyd police in the investigation.
Robert Worley joined Trinity Baptist in 2002 after he and his wife retired from 33 years of missionary work that took them to Spain and Bosnia. The day he died, he had led morning services and was expected back for evening services. A church member called authorities when he didnt show up.
Emergency responders found Robert Worley in the bedroom and Jerry Worley in the living room, authorities said. The home was filled with exhaust fumes.
Randall Worley said his father likely took a nap in the bedroom while Jerry Worley ran errands in the car. When she returned, she left the car running and rested on the couch.
When they were found, Jerry Worley was still wearing her church dress and Robert Worley his church tie, Randall Worley said.
Surgery to remove a brain tumor a few years ago left Jerry Worley with occasional short-term-memory glitches, Randall Worley said. It also damaged her olfactory nerves, which would explain why she didnt smell the exhaust fumes.
“In talking to church members in Boyd, we learned it wasnt the first time she had forgotten to turn off the ignition,” Randall Worley said.
The Worleys lived to serve God, relatives said. They met while attending Baylor University in the 1950s, said another son, Robert Worley Jr. of Temple. His father was from Portales, N.M., and his mother came from the Dallas area. They married in 1957.
His father earned a masters degree in theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. The Worleys became missionaries for the Southern Baptist Convention and were sent to Spain in 1969.
“They fell in love with it from the beginning,” Robert Worley Jr. said. “They were passionate about their missions work there.”
His parents were a success at bringing people to Christ, including his own wife, Maria Duarte, he said. He added that two of his three siblings also married Spaniards, including his sister, Rachel, whose husband, Mike Torres, is pastor of a church in Barcelona.
After the Worleys had spent 28 years in Spain, a call went out for experienced missionaries in war-torn Bosnia, which was beginning reconstruction after years of conflict. They volunteered immediately and spent five years there.
“I think the first house they lived in still had bullet holes,” Randall Worley said. “But they were happy to go and do the best they could. They lived in the light of their relationship with Christ until the day they died.”
Services will be held at 2 p.m. today at Aurora Baptist Church in Aurora.