Wayne Hayes remembers a time when he would drive previous an indication on what now’s North Mulberry Avenue in Elizabethtown that declared the town’s inhabitants to be 4,500.
With the inhabitants now estimated to be greater than 30,000, a substantial amount of development and alter have occurred all through Hayes’ life. Regardless of all of the transformations which have occurred round him, Hayes has maintained some key values, together with a robust religion, a dedication to household and a devotion to service for his neighborhood and his nation.
On April 13, Hayes will rejoice 100 years of life. Though merely being a centenarian is sort of the achievement in itself, the way in which Hayes has crammed these 100 years – from preventing in World Struggle II to sustaining a neighborhood enterprise for 3 a long time to discovering new love in his golden years – is rather more exceptional.
Born simply outdoors of Hodgenville on April 13, 1921, Hayes is a 1939 graduate of the previous Glendale Excessive Faculty. Following commencement, he went on to check for 2 years at Bowling Inexperienced Enterprise College, which ultimately grew to become what now is named the Gordon Ford School of Enterprise at Western Kentucky College. He then labored for 2 years at Vultee Plane in Nashville earlier than becoming a member of the Military in 1943.
Hayes served for 2 years within the Pacific Theater with the U.S. Military Air Corps throughout WWII. Serving as a radar operator on a B-29 bomber crew, Hayes took half in 30 missions over Japan.
Hayes stated he was a member of an 11-man crew, which he stated consisted of the pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, radio operator, navigator, flight engineer and 4 whole gunners.
“I used to be really the assistant to the navigator who was primarily in cost,” he stated. “If it was cloudy, it was my job to information us to the goal.”
A few of his missions included dropping off provides to American prisoners of struggle and dropping leaflets informing the Japanese of upcoming bomb strikes.
“They have been 13- or 14-hour missions and we’d come again, fall within the bunk, stand up two days later and do one other one,” he stated.
Hayes’ aircraft was shot throughout one encounter within the sky, which he stated resulted within the lack of two engines and a part of one of many plane’s wings. His crew was pressured to land in Iwo Jima and one member of his crew was injured on account of the strike, he stated.
Hayes returned to the U.S. in 1945, a second he stated was probably the most memorable.
“Once I bought again to the USA and bought off the aircraft, I bent over and kissed the bottom,” he stated.
After being discharged from the Military that very same yr, Hayes settled down in Glendale, the place he took on co-ownership of his father’s ironmongery shop. He has stayed in Hardin County all through his post-military life.
“I graduated from highschool right here, it’s my residence and I knew everyone,” he stated. “It was a spot to return again to.”
Hayes stated he labored on the ironmongery shop for 11 years earlier than partnering with J.M.F. Hays Insurance coverage & Realty Co. Dealing with the insurance coverage facet, Hayes stated he labored with the enterprise for greater than 30 years, retiring in 1990.
Hayes has been concerned with Lions Membership actions for greater than 75 years and has served as president for each the Glendale and Elizabethtown golf equipment. He additionally has served on the Coronary heart of Kentucky Board of Realtors and has been a member of Severns Valley Baptist Church for practically 60 years.
Lions Membership member Jim Weise stated Hayes has performed an important function in native Lions Membership actions through the years.
“Even at 100 years outdated, he’s the sort of man who’s pondering ‘What can I do for another person?’” Weise stated.
Hayes was married to his highschool sweetheart, Polly, for greater than 65 years till her loss of life in 2007. However at age 88, Hayes bought a second shot at love.
Whereas attending a grief counseling group at church, Hayes met his second spouse, Betty, who additionally was coping with the latest loss of life of her first partner. Finally, Hayes labored up the nerve to ask her on a date.
Hayes ended up marrying Betty in Might 2009. As a married couple, Hayes stated they loved occurring journeys, consuming at their favourite eating places and spending loads of high quality time with household.
Hayes and his spouse moved in 2019 to RobinBrooke Senior Dwelling in Elizabethtown. He stated as restrictions started to take maintain at assisted residing services amid COVID-19, the previous yr has been a problem.
“It’s been terrible arduous on seniors,” he stated. “Betty, bless her coronary heart, she stated, ‘I’m getting bored with these 4 partitions.’”
On March 11, Betty died peacefully at age 85. Although her passing was an incredible loss for Hayes, he stated he’s grateful for what she dropped at his life in these 12 years.
“She stored me going,” he stated. “She waited on me, she beloved me, she cared for me, she supported me in no matter I needed to do.”
Betty’s son, Michael Tucker, stated Hayes really made the final years of his mom’s life particular.
“Wayne was the exceptional power of the household,” he stated. “Wayne was the affect that made her final 12 years exceptional.”
Approaching centenarian standing, Hayes stated he largely credit his longevity to “the great Lord.” Nevertheless, he stated sustaining a wholesome life-style definitely helped. He stated he give up utilizing tobacco merchandise within the Eighties due to a mishap involving a pair of knit pants he owned on the time.
“I put my pipe in my pocket and burned a gap in them,” he stated.
Hayes stated wanting again on the previous century, the factor he’s most pleased with is his household, together with his organic kids and grandchildren and the household he gained by way of his marriage to Betty. He has two kids, 4 stepchildren and a number of other grandchildren in addition to nice grandchildren.
“My household has given me a lot love, I simply can’t hardly let you know,” he stated.