Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tribute to my Dad, John Alexander Hays 1929 - 2017

It's with a heavy heart that I am announcing the passing of my Father, John Alexander Hays, 87, who passed on June 19th, 2017.  I've been in Florida helping my Mom take care of the funeral arrangements and the memorial service.  It's been a very difficult time for all of us.  My Dad had dementia for the last several years and my Mom had been caring for him at home.  My sister, Jennifer, was the driver in the family so she was running errands for food, doctors appointments and prescription pick-ups.  It's been a tough struggle with lots of challenges for all of us.  It's a terrible disease and one you would never want your loved one to have and to never have yourself.  I want to remember my Dad when he was more than this disease,  when he was fun, creative and loved to do so many things. 

My Dad was born on August 5th, 1929 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.  His Mother was Helen A. Suders and his Father, Percy W. Hays.  He had five sisters, Marion, Agnes, Virginia, Ruth and Gloria, also two brothers, Bill, and Jim. 

My Dad and Mom on one of our trips to visit in March 2014

My Dad's passing happened very quickly.  I talked to him that very day, Fathers' Day, June 18th.  Later that same evening my sister called and said they had called 911, that Daddy had fallen and had been taken to the hospital.  When I next heard from her, it was with very bad news, he wasn't expected to make it, he had had a pulmonary embolism, along with other contributing conditions.  The next morning, he had passed on, it was his time to go.  That was on Monday.  Wayne quickly made travel arrangements and we arrived in Winter Park late Wednesday night. 

I have to say, so many people were helpful in guiding us in the right direction in carrying out the process of what to do next.  The folks at Florida Hospital and A Community Funeral Home were so helpful and professional.  We set up the arrangements for a memorial at the Maranatha Fellowship Church, that my folks attended.  Pastor Steve Graves and his wife Joyce were so thoughtful, asking the right questions and helping us plan the memorial.  Also, a big thanks to Carol and Ken Whitlock for the home visits and drives to and from church.  My Dad always enjoyed your visits.

I made a collage of photos for the memorial service.  It was very therapeutic for me to look through all the photos that Daddy placed in albums.  Unfortunately, they were not sorted so I never knew what was coming up next!  I used a tri-fold black poster board as a support.  I wanted to tell a story of my Dad from photos of him as a boy to a young man. Then on to photos of him with my Mom, then the three of us, then the birth of my sister, Jennifer makes four of us, then my daughter, Regina, the grandchild makes five.  Also included were photos of him with all his siblings, then of all of us as adults with our husbands.  These I arranged in the center area. 

On the left side I had photos of the house and the garden.  He was always working on or growing something!  Planning of the garden was a big deal!  I included a photo of both Mom and Daddy with their  company truck, Hays Pest Control.  He and my Mom both worked in their business, day in and day out, together for many years until their retirement.  On the right side, I included things he liked to do, with photos of his workshop and a few of the many things he made, from cabinets to wooden cars.  He loved to cook and bake, especially bread.  Fishing was also a favorite past time and I even found that photo of the largest fish he ever caught!   Proof and not just "another fish tale"!  In these photos, I found out things I didn't know and rediscovered things I had forgotten about.

I also found the article of when my folks lost everything in a house fire when I was a baby.  The house was listed as being in Mercersburg, PA.  I always thought the house was somewhere else near Ft. Loundon.  My Dad jumped out of the second story window with me in his arms!

Adding the letters and feathers made it complete.  I would not have gotten through all this were it not for my husband, Wayne.  He was always there with a hug and another pair of hands to do whatever was needed.   He made the travel arrangements, drove me everywhere I needed to be, helped with the cooking and gave support when the challenges felt overwhelming. He's still helping me with the tangle of insurance and other paperwork that needs to be gotten through!  Mom told me she was so glad we had each other.  Yes, Mom, me too!  He is a keeper for sure!

Above is the altar arrangement before the services.  The framed photo of my Dad is from the 70's.  The votive holder was also made by him, he made one for all of us.  Then, right of that is one of the smaller cars he made.  It was my Mom's favorite.

Pastor Steve Graves getting started.

He did a wonderful service, had us laughing and crying, sometimes at the same time.  My Dad would have loved it!  My heartfelt thanks goes to Paster Steve Graves and his wife, Joyce for the help and support they gave us and the wonderful service and memorial for my Dad.  Thanks to Joyce for leading us in song as we sang some of my Dad's favorites.  I know he heard us!  They had a lovely lunch set up for us afterwards and my Mom said how she knew my Dad would have been so pleased with everything.   

Some neighbors and friends stopping to meet and give condolences. 

My Mom and Dad still in love after 68 years of marriage.  They set a wonderful example of love and partnership.  Daddy, we will all miss you.  We send you on your way with love in our hearts for your next journey to a better place... follow the light.  You will be remembered.

Below is the obituary I placed on the website of acommunityfuneralhome.com.

John A Hays born in Franklin County, PA, August 5th 1929 to Helen A (Sutters) and Percy W Hays of Mercersburg PA, passed away June 19th 2017 at the age of 87. He is survived by his wife Dorothy M (Starliper) Hays, daughters Barbara A Freeman, Everett WA, Jennifer L Taber, Orlando FL, granddaughter Regina A Ballew, Everett WA, sister Gloria Hawk, Chambersburg PA, brother William Hays, Ft Loudon, PA and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Marion Shindeldecker, Agnes Creager, Ruth Williams, Virginia Deshong, and Reverend James Hays. 

John and his family moved to Orlando FL in 1964 where he worked as a licensed pest control professional for Eagle Pest Control and later started his own business, Hays Pest Control which he operated until his retirement. John enjoyed fishing, gardening, bread baking, and woodworking. He attended Maranatha Fellowship Church. There will be a memorial service at the church on Thursday, June 29th, 11:30am. The family request that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Maranatha Fellowship Church.
Here is a a link where you can sign the guest book.