Hayes, Gerald and Catheleen Scholarship Fund
For a West Noble High School senior who is pursuing a degree from a two or four year college or university, with a grade point average between 2.50 to 3.00, with preference going to the student closest to the 3.00 GPA. For tuition only. Awards approximately $500 one time. (cfnc)
Donor Fund Story:
Kay Hayes was born in Helmer, Indiana and shortly after moved with her parents to Ligonier, Indiana. She remembers attending the Methodist church in Ligonier with her friends. Her father was a garage man and her mother worked in payroll at the Wirk Garment. Being an only child, Kay was very close to her mother. “She was a real pretty lady,” Kay said. She remembers her mother helping her get ready for a date or going miniature golfing with her. “She was a good sport” Kay said.
Dancing was a big deal back in her growing up days. Kay remembers going to a dance with Gerald Hayes in Chicago and on the way back home, he turned on the wrong road and they did not get home until four o’clock in the morning. Thankfully, her parents were not too worried about them. She also remembers a place on the lake where people went to dance. She said, “All the fellas had to wear coats and ties. They looked nice, and you didn’t see any whiskers.”
She graduated from Ligonier High School in 1937 and married her six-foot tall best friend Gerald Hayes on July 30, 1939. Their wedding was very simple. An Albion preacher and his wife were the only ones accompanying Gerald and Kay at the ceremony. After the wedding, they left for their honeymoon in their brand new Plymouth Coupe. On their honeymoon, they traveled to Cincinnati, the Eastern United States, and Canada. Kay bought angora wool, a desk set, and a new pair of shoes while on their traveling expedition. Kay worked as a receptionist at Wirk Garment in Ligonier where she used a Dictaphone (sound recording device). She also worked at a jewelry store. Before Gerald left for the army, they opened up their own shoe store in downtown Ligonier which they ended up having for 37 years.
Gerald went overseas to Normandy to fight in World War II from 1943-1945. While he was training in Florida, Kay went to visit him at a guesthouse. She remembers fondly going to a dance and having a good time. She said with a little laugh, “Some of the other soldiers wanted to dance with me, but Gerald didn’t want anyone to dance with me.”
While Gerald was overseas, Kay wrote to him every day and ran the shoe store that they owned. She had to learn how to build a fire, decorate the store window, and keep the books at the store on her own without Gerald. At 92, Kay still has a very sharp memory of the war days. She remembers the gas and food rationing in the U.S. She also remembers hearing Gerald talk about how he and other soldiers who were in Wales had to walk around to farms to collect eggs. She rattled off Gerald’s soldier number (which she had to write down on the letters she wrote to him) like it was her phone number “35896179”. She expressed how difficult it was to be away from him for two years. Seeing the commitment she had for Gerald was very encouraging to witness.
One day, Kay received a telegram about her husband. He had been injured in the war, but they could not tell her, what had happened and how bad his injuries were. She remembers that in the war days, some words were cut out of telegrams for safety reasons. She was finally able to hear from a source how he was doing. He had gotten wounded from being blown out of a jeep. His injuries included losing all of his hearing, getting shot in the arm, and having his hair go white. Because of his arm injury, Gerald could never play golf again and had to learn to shave and write with his left hand. He was transferred to a V.A. Hospital and returned home in 1945. It took him a while to get used to being home. However, Kay recalls, “He never complained about the war. He always said ‘at least I got back’.”
Whether they were working in the shoe store or picking up sticks in their yard, Gerald and Kay always worked together and never had any trouble. Kay still lives in the house they built together, “Back then we didn’t have to have a contract to build a house, and because the builder knew that we were trustworthy.” Kay still has her original water heater and furnace which were installed in 1956-1957.
Gerald and Kay celebrated 60 years together. In 1999, Gerald was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away shortly after his diagnosis. Kay misses both him and her friends who have passed.
Kay is a definite people person. When her husband was living, he used to tell her that she didn’t need to talk to everyone. She laughs as she reminisces. She gets daily visits from her friend Will and she has her cat ‘Whitey’ to keep her company.
Kay also keeps herself busy by knitting. She has made over 200 sweaters for World Vision to give to needy children globally and has knit for church needs as well. In 2011, Kay knitted 40 hats. Her newest project involves making sweaters for teddy bears so that they can be passed out by the fire department to give to children who have come through tough circumstances. She also enjoys flowers and working outdoors.
Kay appreciates Noble County because of the people and the pretty houses. “Mainly the people” she says. She is trying to make new friends now that most of hers have passed on.
Kay established the Gerald C. Hayes Fund upon Gerald’s death and the purpose of this Field of Interest fund was for the betterment of the Ligonier Cemetery for charitable purposes. The Gerald and Catheleen Hayes Scholarship Fund was created after a dear friend of Kay’s passed away. Kay thought why should she wait until she dies to give back to the community and she so loves children that she started a scholarship fund that would benefit students forever. Then upon friendships established throughout the last few years she wanted to start a fund for a local alternative school benefitting the West Noble area so she created The Ligonier Crossing Fund.