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Home » Campus News Latest » Obituaries » Erle Daniel Ayres ’65

Erle Daniel Ayres died peacefully at Kendal in Oberlin, Ohio, on October 16, 2020.

Dan was born in 1942 in Danville, Pennsylvania. His father, Erle Bingham Ayres, taught physics and chemistry at Drexel. His mother, Janet McAfee Ayres, taught biology. His parents taught Dan and his brothers that the best way to understand how something works was to carefully take it apart, examine it, and put it together again.

In 1964, Dan married Lynn Hayes in the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh which was where they met in the church’s youth group (LRY). In 1968, they moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan. They lived in Ypsilanti for 48 years and they always had one dog. First there was Ben, then Joshua, then Beau, and now there is McAfee (Mac).

Dan completed his undergraduate work at Antioch college. He earned a master’s degree from Penn State. He then turned down a fellowship offer from Harvard to accept a fellowship from the Sociology Department of the University of Michigan.

It was while he was working in the Sociology Department that Dan became fascinated by the computer. He was proud to have been acknowledged for his computer assistance in the Ph.D theses of 40 other graduate students. Dan discovered that he loved helping people with their computer problems more than he wanted his own Ph.D. in Sociology. After leaving the U of M, he worked for a number of computer companies in the Ann Arbor area including Comshare from 1979 to 1992.

The last ten years of his career, Dan became an independent computer consultant specializing in Lotus Notes. He finally retired when Lynn retired from teaching in 2002. In his retirement, Dan became an active volunteer at Growing Hope in Ypsilanti. He was especially interested in planting American chestnut trees. He sprouted and grew hundreds of American chestnuts. He planted his chestnut seedlings at the First Unitarian Church of Ann Arbor and also on the property of his long-time friends from Antioch, Michael David ’67 and Jan Ben Dor ’67 of Superior Twp, MI.

He also planted trees around Ypsilanti’s schools, parks, streets, yards, and along the country club. In 2016, Dan and Lynn moved to Kendal, a continuing care community on a 100+ acre campus that is accredited by ArbNet as The John Bartram Arboretum. There Dan enjoyed planting trees and pulling up invasive species. He also loved helping other residents with their computer problems.

By then he’d had to give up his beloved antique BMW and Zundapp motorcycles, but he used his mechanical skills to help Kendal’s residents to repair their bicycles, tricycles, and various other machines.

Dan is survived by his wife, Lynn Hayes Ayres, and his brother, Joseph Ayres of Yellow Springs, Ohio. Dan also was a brother to Lynn’s brothers: Chuck (Diane) of Greer, S. C. ; and Scott Hayes of Pittsburgh, PA. Dan was extremely proud of being the uncle of Chip Hayes of Warren, PA; Clay Hayes of Warren, PA ; and Laura Hayes (Keith Beutel) of Washington, D.C. who are the parents of Sabine Hayes Beutel. Dan is also survived by several members of Dan and Lynn’s extended family in Ypsilanti.

Brian Kruger (Roseanne Paglia) of Grosse Pointe, Michigan assembled an entire computer from a kit with Dan when Brian was in middle school. Bradley Brookshire (Elliot Martinez) of New York City, NY worked tirelessly with Dan to complete building a harpsichord from a Zuckerman kit when Brad was in high school. Matthew Thompson of Ann Arbor, Michigan ran several 10K races with Dan.

Dan’s family would appreciate memorial contributions to Growing Hope in Ypsilanti, Michigan, or to Kendal at Oberlin for the John Bartram Arboretum. Cowling Funeral Home, Oberlin, Ohio 44074.