Will Hayes was born in Detroit in 1947, and passed away on Sept. 18, 2020. As Will’s sister Nancy says, “Our parents had two perfectly nice daughters. But somehow, in those days, you needed a boy to round out your family. Will was born during a blizzard and Will’s sister Sharon reports that when he arrived home crying, the girls ran out of the house!
Theirs was not, as sister Nancy says, “your standard issue fifties family.” Around the dinner table they discussed the moral and ethical issues of the day, and father Walt made the kids really think. They read Harpers, Saturday Review, the NY Times and the Christian Science Monitor. Brought up thinking deeply; always thinking.
Activism and social justice were also part of Will’s growing up. Refusing to go to Vietnam landed him in prison for more than a year at Fort Dix and Fort Leavenworth as a war resister. His final sign from his last rally this spring said “Courage and compassion — cure — fear and hate.”
Food was also integral to Will’s life. In high school he prepared the family dinner. Along the way he cooked for a fraternity, for a summer camp, for a Chinese restaurant, and delivered Hagen Daz across Wisconsin. He made hot breakfasts for Nick. Ever patient, he did not mind spending all day in the kitchen for the perfect chili or perfect braise.
Unwilling to fly, Will figured other ways to travel. Through two Semester at Sea voyages with Peg, Will went around the world by sea and visited 20 countries. Will and Peg lived in Kyoto for 6 months, and this spring spent another month there. He took his first flight in 50 years to return home ahead of coronavirus in late March.
He was an accomplished photographer, blacksmith, outdoorsman, and Scout leader. An overall DIY guy. He built koi ponds, garden walls, and a clay oven. And as a final coronavirus project, he worked with Peg to make a large natural pond in the backyard and turn the yard over to native plants.
Although Will was raised in a Unitarian Universalist church, he had fallen away in adulthood. But he fully committed to All Souls Church in DC – Leadership Development and Nominating Committee, Our Whole Lives human sexuality class, Archives, documenting church life with his photographs, and leading a grief support group.
Will participated in lay psychotherapy work in his San Francisco days. Many years later, his Smith College MSW credential opened the door for working with families and teens in Wisconsin, Michigan, Maryland and Virginia. Lots of lives were helped.
Will passed away one month ago, Sept. 18, 2020, dying from metastasized pancreatic cancer. He was active until the end of July. At his request, there was a green burial at Congressional Cemetery.
Will is survived by sons Nick and Jeremy and their partners, long-time step-sons Dave and Dan, and their families, including grandchildren Madeline, Dahlia, Dale, and Hayden. He also played a significant role in the lives of Calli and Janice. The home was open and hospitality was one of Will’s gifts.