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William Hayes

William Anderson Hayes exemplified a life well lived. He was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 22, 1926. Bill was the 7th child of James J. Hayes, a pharmacist and owner of a pharmacy in Corktown, and Mabelle Anderson Hayes.

Bill enjoyed early life in a bustling household throughout the Great Depression with fun loving siblings, James, Arthur, Margaret, Edgar, Stanley, Helen and John. Bill took the train to Cadillac to spend successive summers with Swedish relatives on their farm, supplying him with a lifetime of stories related to cousin Faith and their escapades mostly unknown to Aunt Esther and Uncle Charles . Ambitious and focused from a young age, Bill contributed to the family starting with a paper route at age 11. Throughout University of Detroit law school, Bill worked at the Michigan Mortgage Company before embarking on a successful career as a corporate real estate attorney, first with Standard Oil Company, and for the bulk of his career with General Motors Corporation.

Bill launched his naval career at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago, Illinois upon graduation from St. Theresa Catholic School. He became a skilled signalman after an auspicious beginning. It seems he had not entirely focused on the initial training offered. Admonished after his failure to send his first official signal aboard a ship exiting the San Francisco harbor, he quickly mastered the requirements. Bill always told the story of arriving on the deck of the ship and the senior officer asking him to start signaling followed by the realization that despite formal training, he couldn’t actually do it. On the job training commenced and he became a highly skilled signalman. Bill was aboard the Santa Isabella at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He was always very proud of his military service and in his last years always wore his Navy cap when he went out. This cap was recognized and respected by others as well - attracting many gifts and perks as a result.

Throughout his career with GM, Bill negotiated significant land and plant acquisitions on behalf of GM. He travelled across the US and internationally providing legal advice to advance GM’s goals. Bill was a member of the three person committee negotiating the location of the joint venture with Toyota for the Saturn plant which attracted significant media. The plant ultimately located at Springhill Tennessee.

Respected by colleagues, Bill’s gift for empathy, intellect, and conversation, advanced him to a senior position heading the real estate department on the GM legal staff. He understood the importance of emotional intelligence before it was fashionable. He believed that you can be the most intelligent and have the most prestigious degrees, but if you can’t get along with people, your success will be limited.

Bill found the love of his life at University of Detroit, Ellen Louise Keller Hayes where she had the locker next to his. His love of Tiger baseball is well known to friends and family. He even proposed marriage, presenting the ring to Ellen, while running down the steps of the old Tiger Stadium. Thereafter, Bill attended a lifetime of baseball games with Ellen and his 6 children, especially Michael. Bill had a mentor in baseball, his older brother, Edgar, Detroit sports writer, who instilled the knowledge required for a lifetime of passion for this American pastime.

Ellen and Bill raised Mary Beth, Ellen, Maureen, Billy, Anne, and Michael in Beverly Hills. Bill was a most devout Catholic. Thus, Catholic education was a requirement in his eyes. The 6 children attended Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Marian and Brother Rice Schools. An exceptional and adored father in the eyes of all 6 children, Bill not only provided an excellent standard of living and obvious displays of love and affection. Bill imbued the children with a healthy dose of Irish wit and humor. His most exceptional work as father pertained to Bill Jr, who has suffered with mental illness for many years. He lovingly guided Bill Jr through the maze of mental health services including many times the court system. Bill worked tirelessly within the state of Michigan for improvements on behalf of all mentally ill citizens. As an attorney and a father, Bill procured the best care available, eventually securing his son’s home with the Hope Network in Grand Rapids.

Bill enjoyed 6 grandchildren, Brianne, Marlee, Matthew, Michael James, Miles, and Micah.

Bill had an abiding affection for the farm in Karlin which he purchased while the 6 children were quite young after a hilariously rainy and disastrous camping trip to the Interlochen State Park Campgrounds one summer. 7 miles from the Interlochen Music Camp, Bill nurtured this farm into a haven, a second home for all the family. The family hosted Bill’s 90th birthday party there, and friends and family attended from far and wide.

Bill was an accomplished skater in his youth. He often swam during lunch while working in the General Motors Building. Bill surprised his children one year bringing home a golf trophy from an Our Lady Queen of Martyrs tournament.

Bill had a gift for people - always treating everyone with great respect regardless of their situation in life. Much of his life embodied tenets of the Catholic faith first learned at St. Theresa Catholic School. A spirit of social justice and service to those in need informed Bill’s choices and generosity to charities. Bill enjoyed a close relationship with the Capuchin Mission and prayed with this community often.

He was known as the dog whisperer, always had dogs in his life, starting with Judge the Golden Retriever, Hansel, the Dachshund, Tammy, the Springer Spaniel, and finally the infamous Jack Russell Terrier, Bart! In the end, he and Bart had a language of their own, and lived totally in sync with one another.

Most of all, Bill Hayes had a twinkle in his eye, and always a good story to tell. For this he will be most dearly missed by his adoring children, extended family and friends

Family will receive friends on Sunday 2-6 p.m. with Rosary service at 5 p.m. at A.J. Desmond & Sons (Vasu, Rodgers & Connell Chapel) 32515 Woodward Ave., (Btw 13-14 Mile), 248-549-0500.

Funeral Mass Monday 10 a.m. at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, 32340 Pierce, Beverly Hills, MI. Visitation at church begins at 9:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen ( or Hope Network Foundation (River Valley Campus), 3075 Orchard Vista Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49518-0890, (

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