MUSCLE SHOALS — Heaven gained a precious soul with the earthly passing of our beloved Dad, Ray Lenton Hays, 88, formerly of Cherokee, Alabama. Born in 1932, he was the son of Elmer Edward Hays and Viola Talley Hays of Riverton, Alabama. He grew up in a community called Dark Hollow and attended Riverton School as a young child.
After the sudden death of his father, his mother would move her seven boys to Cherokee to work on the Redwine Farm. Our father talked about working hard on the farm and the difficulties everyone faced during the Great Depression.
At the age of 18, he and his twin brother set off to war. They found themselves in North Korea, fighting for their lives and for the United States of America. Dad was severely wounded and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. A veteran of the Korean War, he received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and multiple Sharpshooter medals, as well as other combat medals. He served proudly with the men of Battery B 104th AAA Battalion 31st Division. Our father was given special resolution and accommodation by the State of Alabama Legislature for his service to his country.
After coming home from the war, Dad was determined to finish high school. His CVHS Class of 1957 voted him Senior Class President. He attended Florence State College before accepting a job with the United States Postal Service. He served the people of West Colbert County as a rural mail carrier. He was also appointed by U.S. Senator John Sparkman as Postmaster of the Cherokee office. He retired from the Postal Service after 34 years of service.
Our dad had a passion to serve, love and help others. He was strong and determined in all he set out to do in his life. He loved his community and served in various capacities to help his town thrive. He was President of the Cherokee Lions Club for over 10 years, President of the American Legion of Colbert County, Trustee of Cherokee Elementary School, and a proud member of the VFW and American Legion for 65 years. He was a member of Vertagreen No. 919 as a Master Mason, a Shriner, and served on the Cherokee Town Planning Commission. He was responsible for establishing the first Pee Wee football association in Cherokee. He also helped establish the Cherokee Library and served on the Cherokee Clinic Board. Dad loved sports, especially football, and volunteered to help Coach Chois Dyar coach quarterbacks during his younger years.
Dad loved church and always enjoyed good preaching and singing. He talked about working with the RA’s at First Baptist Church in Cherokee. Dad made it a priority to take his family to church and set a wonderful Godly example for his family.
Our dad has left a lasting legacy for his family, friends, and community He will always be remembered as a man of integrity, strength, and courage. He always took one day at a time, having a positive outlook on life because of his love for God, family, and friends. He believed you were never too old to receive an education and encouraged those who were seeking their career path. He has written two books, The Seven Brothers of Dark Hollow and The Long Journey Home. Dad was a longtime member of Harris Chapel Baptist Church.
He was preceded in death by his father, Elmer Edward Hays; mother, Viola Talley Hays; daughter, Karen Elaine Hays; and brothers, Sam, Aubrey, Emmitt, Lee, Roy, and James Hays. He is survived by his children who adore him, David Hays and wife, Kathy, Debbie Hays Windsor and husband, Tom, and Mitchell Hays, as well as his grandchildren, Blake Hays (Megan), Kelly Windsor Meckes (Todd), Katie Windsor Hagle (Casey), Tommy Windsor (Emily), Rachel Smith (Chris), Anna Margaret Hays, and Jake Hays, and great-grandchildren, Lilly Meckes, Will Meckes, Windsor Grace Hagle, Sam Hagle, Sarah Kate Hagle, Mary Vivian Hays, and Chloe Hays, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He loved his Hays/Hayes and Talley families very much. Dad was looking forward to celebrating the Hays/Hayes 200th anniversary this year.
Pallbearers will be Blake Hays, Tommy Windsor, Todd Meckes, Brian Lindsey, Will Meckes, Sam Hagle, Matthew Till, Chris Smith, and Jake Hays.
The Hays family would like to give a special heartfelt thank you to our Dad’s caregivers, Kristina Craigge, Sherrie Craigge, Lisha Pennington, Pam Brooks, Karen Spence and his granddaughter, Kelly Meckes, for your love and care given to him. These ladies went above and beyond to provide our father with compassionate care and to love him as family. He always felt great comfort when you were with him. Also, a special thanks to Kindred Home Health.
He will be missed greatly on this earth, but we have assurance that we will have a wonderful reunion in Heaven one day with our dad and family.
Any memorials may be made to the Cherokee Lions Club, the Cherokee Library, the American Legion Post 31, the Harris Chapel Baptist Church Youth Fund, or the Parkview Baptist Church Children’s and Youth Ministries.
A full military graveside service will be held at noon on Thursday, January 14, 2021, at Harris Chapel Baptist Church. His grandson-in-law, Casey Hagle, will officiate the funeral service.
Please visit morrisonfuneralhomes.com to leave tributes and condolences for the family.