Obituary of Ann Palfrey Hayes
Devoted wife, sweet and caring mother, and loving grandmother, died in La Selva Beach, California on May 2, 2019, at the age of 86. The possessor of an incandescent smile and a remarkably kind and giving disposition, Ann leaves her son Rob, and daughter-in-law Gretchen Adams of Cambridge, MA; grandson Henry Hayes; son-in-law Charlie McCollum; granddaughter Chelsea McCollum; nieces Sarah and Christine Hansen; and nephew Arlin Stockburger. She is predeceased by her sister, Jean Palfrey Hansen; her husband, Robert C. Hayes; and her daughter, Holly Ann Hayes.
Ann was born in Dinuba, California, June 5, 1932. She moved to Fresno when she was two (with her sister Jean and parents Edith White Palfrey and Ernest Rolph Palfrey), where she attended local schools. Both Ernie and Edith were schoolteachers, and they passed on to Ann and her sister an expectation of scholastic excellence, and a deep and abiding interest in the wider world. Ernie was the coach of the 1927 California state boys high school basketball champions from tiny Dinuba High School, improbably besting Palo Alto in the championship game, held at Stanford.
After graduating from Fresno’s Roosevelt High School, Ann went on to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she joined the Pi Beta Phi sorority. In her first year at UCSB, on a blind date, she met fellow UCSB student and Santa Barbara native Bob Hayes, and fell deeply in love.
Bob had been in Europe with the American Army of Occupation, and had returned stateside determined to make his mark in the post-war world of automobiles. With his star quickly rising in the auto business, the couple left college, and after marrying in Fresno in 1951, set up housekeeping in Santa Barbara in support of Bob’s career.
Bob’s rapid ascension at the Santa Barbara Ford dealership led to executive positions with Ford Motor Company itself, in the Los Angeles area, and the couple moved to Whittier. Their son Rob was born there in 1954. And two years later, their daughter Holly arrived. The Hayeses were devoted parents, and Ann was particularly central in inspiring a deep love of reading and learning in her children. Both were already reading when they began kindergarten.
Beginning in their children’s earliest school years, Ann was active in the PTA, and taught Sunday school in the Presbyterian Church. Later, she led Holly’s Brownie and Girl Scout troupes, teaching the girls sewing and stitchery, taking them on camping and museum field trips, and fostering their interest in civics and history.
Bob left Ford to purchase and run the Ford dealership in Fillmore, California. Ann worked part-time at the family business, helping keep the books straight, and her husband sane. After three years, they sold to a local businessman, and Bob was invited to return to Ford corporate.
In 1969, the Hayes family, all native Californians, moved to Dearborn, Michigan so that Bob could take a new position in Ford’s world headquarters. Ann helped make a new home for the family, and together they learned to cope with midwestern winters. Soon, she began a career outside the home, as a docent at the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village.
Ann loved learning about America’s industrial history, and became an in-house museum resource on the work and lives of aviation pioneers the Wright Brothers, and inventor Thomas Edison. She continued leading tours and doing research at the museum throughout the 13 years she and Bob lived in Michigan.
The Hayes family was fortunate to travel together widely, visiting nearly all of the lower 48 states and Hawaii. In the summer of 1972 they were able to travel throughout Europe.
A few years after their children graduated from college, Bob took retirement from Ford at age 55. Ann and Bob said goodbye to their Dearborn friends and headed back to their native California, just days after their house was sold.
The couple enjoyed 25 happy years of retirement together, settled in Soquel, California. They had many, long-time friends, and traveled extensively in Europe, and throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in their small motor home. Their daughter Holly, and son-in-law Charlie McCollum, both senior editors at the San Jose Mercury News, were a regular presence in their home.
In 1992, grandson Henry Hayes was born to son Rob and daughter-in-law Gretchen Adams. Throughout the years, Henry was a source of enormous joy as a visitor to Ann and Bob’s home, whether in the company of his Cambridge, MA-based parents, or flying transcontinental solo.
Bob died in 2007, at the age of 80. Ann continued to live and garden at their Soquel home, and enjoyed her good friends in the Daisy Auxiliary of the Family Service Agency, and in Chapter S.P. of PEO. She moved to Dominican Oaks in Santa Cruz in 2018, and then the Wesley House, in La Selva Beach, in 2019. Per Ann’s wishes, there will be no service. However, donations in her name may be made to the Santa Cruz SPCA, 2260 7th Ave., Santa Cruz, Calif., 95062; www.santacruzspca.org