William Bender Hayes, 85, of Davidson, NC passed away on April 7, 2023. Bill was born in Rye, NY on June 10, 1937, to the late William Jennings and Violet Bender Hayes.
Bill grew up in the town of Rye in Westchester County, New York, where his legacy of athletic and civic achievement began. A proud Rye High School graduate, Bill played football, basketball, and ran track, showcasing his multifaceted athletic ability. On top of his consistent high school championships, Bill raced at the Penn Relays, one of his very fond memories. Bill was committed to civic participation as a high school achievement, embodying the value of being a part of the local community. He earned his Eagle Scout as a member of BSA Troop 29.
Bill extended upon these legacies at Brown University, where he was a member of both the Football and Track teams and a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Bill looked upon his days on the hill with immense joy, as his hard work in the classroom and on the fields resulted in great academic and athletic success. He graduated in 1959 with a BA in Political Science.
After graduation and completion of OCS in Newport, RI, Bill accepted a commission in the United States Navy with the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. He served on the USS Valley Forge CV-45 based out of Norfolk, VA. It was during his naval service when he met the love of his life, Mildred Berkeley Hayes. Bill was particularly proud of representing his country abroad, as well as having the distinguished pleasure to take the wheel of the vessel on several occasions, as he recalled to his grandchildren. Bill’s admirable service demonstrated his selfless nature and special community-oriented proclivities which endeared him to all who had the opportunity to know him.
After his tour, Bill and Berkley were married on January 5, 1963, and settled in Washington, DC after his honorable discharge from the Navy. Bill forged a successful career in the home furnishings industry. Bill’s ascension through this industry was a testament to his persistence and love for connecting with people, and through his business acumen he became a pillar of the home furnishings industry. A highlight of his illustrious career was his collaboration with Oscar de la Renta, which he regarded in high esteem throughout his life.
Bill lived with his wife and three sons in Chatham, NJ and Morganton, NC. Bill was involved in the civic life of Chatham representing his community as town councilman. In retirement, Bill and Berkeley split time between Stone Harbor, NJ and Palm Desert, CA. These locations held a special place in his heart, as the beloved “Sandtrap” in Stone Harbor was a uniting ground for his family, which hosted Fourth of July celebrations and family gatherings for decades. Bill took pleasure in hosting his family, who he regarded with abundant love and pride. These memories were a highlight of Bill’s life, and his family will cherish them forever.
Building on his high school and collegiate experiences in sports, Bill found golf as the perfect athletic and social activity, which united him with some of his closest friends and family while playing courses all over the world. He was a devoted lifelong supporter of the New York professional sports teams including the Yankees and the Giants. Bill loved nothing more than spending time with his family at a Giants game, sharing the love of the game, commitment to the team, and broader identity as a longtime resident of New Jersey.
Bill’s legacy is his devotion to his family and immense pride in hard work and persistence, which he imbued to his children and grandchildren. His dedication and loyalty to the communities he belonged to shows his true heart. He always greeted people with a smile and a twinkle in his eye and treated them with that same warmth. Friends were family for Bill, as they enriched his life, and his impact on his friends is indelible. We all have so much to learn from the way Bill carried himself and the dignity with which he lived his life. He will be missed and fondly remembered by all.
He is survived by his wife Berkeley and three sons; William Bender Hayes, Jr. of Bedford Hills, NY, (Amy); Arthur Jennings Hayes of Cornelius, NC, (Tess); Brooke Berkeley Hayes of Rydal, PA, (Hilary), and grandchildren Elissa, Cameron, Liam, Luke, Claire, Ben, Owen, and Max.
In lieu of flowers, a Memorial contribution may be made to Tunnel to Towers Foundation, 2361 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, New York,10306. Phone: (718) 987-1931 • Fax: (718) 987-3909 • www.T2T.org