Cover photo for Susan Grace Hayes's Obituary
Susan Grace Hayes Profile Photo
1932 Susan 2019

Susan Grace Hayes

November 5, 1932 — September 2, 2019

Here is the story of her "-"

Our mother, Susan Grace Hayes, the last of the greatest generation in our lives, passed today, September 2, 2019.

Born in Terre Haute, Indiana, November 5, 1932, she was the third of four daughters. Depression era struggles eventually led her father, who tired of receiving chickens as payment for medical treatment, to join the Navy where he eventually rose to become CAPT, USN. The Navy took them to Virginia, Maryland, New York, and Hawaii. When their mother became a semi-invalid, the girls were sent to be with family in California, the long flight from Hawaii to the mainland on a military plane was a life long memory. When she was older, Susan said she wanted to be a doctor like her dad, but while he was confident she could do it, he discouraged her, knowing the cultural tide would be against her and the struggle would undoubtedly change who she was. Instead, she attended Saint Francis Nursing School in Charleston, South Carolina, where she graduated as a registered nurse and worked in a pediatric ward, which included among other duties, pumping iron lungs for polio patients.

While in Charleston she converted to Catholicism, in part because the universal church was uniformly carried out in any church anywhere, which she had not experienced in her Baptist up- bringing. Soon she met and married a handsome young naval officer, Jerome B. Hayes. Days before their wedding, on 15 October 1955, a shipping accident took out the bridge, so the priest had to row a boat over to marry them at the Charleston Cathedral. Susan left nursing to become a full-time Navy wife and they quickly started a family. Patrick and Kathleen were born to them in Key West. Jeffrey was born in Monterey, while Jerry attended the Naval Post Graduate School. They then moved to San Diego, and then to Alameda, CA, where their fourth and last child, Erin, was born. Days later they left for Key West again. This time Jerry was in Command of his diesel submarine, the USS Quillback (SS-424) and Susan became President of the Wives' Club. After his command, he was assigned to the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where Susan routinely and lavishly entertained fellow Navy colleagues and the many international Naval Officers there as well. To make these evenings really special, she used the large collections of china and crystal her dad had given her, which he had picked up cheaply in Japan after the war. She served fine food and wore fancy cocktail dresses, high heels, hair pieces, and false eye lashes - truly an era gone by.

They then moved to the nation's capital, where Susan earned her real estate license to pay for all of her kids to go to college. She was good at it. Every year she was recognized with top honors as a million dollar agent and soon earned her own broker's license. It also helped her keep an eye out for her family, so they eventually moved to an even nicer neighborhood.

When Jerry retired from the Navy, he eventually took a job in the Northwest, close to his childhood home of Oregon. They found a beautiful home on Bainbridge Island, with stunning views of the Puget Sound, Seattle, and the Cascades beyond. Having been a Cub Scout Den Mother countless times, it was no surprise Susan quickly became the Youth Group Leader at St. Cecilia's Catholic Church. Later on, she convinced her dad that she should bring her mom home to live out her final days under her constant care. She always said that even when death is expected, it surprises you. Eventually she and Jerry moved to a new condo downtown. It too was a lovely place. Smaller, all on one floor, and conveniently located across the street from the grocery store, the Island medical clinic, and walking distance to shops and the ferry terminal. Not a surprising choice given her years in real estate - location, location, location!

Susan's health began to deteriorate long before her final days. She suffered in part from immune diseases, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus, and was unfortunately deathly allergic to many otherwise helpful medications. She did not want to be a burden to her family as was her mother before her, so she determinedly pressed through many obstacles that would have crushed others. Further, she made it a point to suffer in silence. She was a self-proclaimed member of the "Fine Family." When asked how she was, she would cheerfully reply that she was fine. Despite many trips to the Emergency Room, long stays at skilled nursing homes, medevac's, and even life support, she was always "fine". Once a nurse remarked that she was glad her files were digitized as her cart wasn't big enough to carry paper copies of all of them! Nurses always said she was a wonderful patient, and so kind too. While her family often feared she would die, she said she never thought about that, as she simply had too much to do. They lovingly called her the Timex Lady, as she would "take a lickin', but keep on tickin'!"

Given the number of times she had brushed with death, no one would have bet on her becoming the last standing of her generation, but she eventually outlived Jerry, months shy of their 55 year wedding anniversary, as well as her three sisters, their husbands, and both of Jerry's sisters and their husbands. As a result, she was eventually adopted by many nieces and nephews as a surrogate mother. She particularly en- joyed being the surrogate grandmother to Laurel, the daughter of her cousin, Marilyn MacBride.
Jerry and Susan seized the opportunity to visit their out of state children often. As their children moved around, it allowed them to get back to the nation's capital, Texas, Florida, and even several trips to England, where she also visited her family roots traced to Dolbadarn Castle, Wales. They spent their golden years cruising through the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, the Mediterranean, and the Panama Canal. A final trip to Mount Rushmore was an unexpected favorite.

After Jerry's 50th US Naval Academy class reunion, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. While Susan was physically weak, she was mentally strong and she said together the two of them got along just fine - her mind, his strength. She took care of him until he eventually succumbed to the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's nine years ago.

After a few more years in the condo, she moved to Bayview as a result of another need for post hospital recuperation. She liked the residents there so much, she became a resident herself seven years ago. She enjoyed being part of the diverse and interesting community at Bayview. She made many friends, and was especially fond of Joy and Trudy. She was active in the first ever retirement community entry into the Green Lake Milk Carton Derby, led multiple committees, and was a regular contributor to the movie committee. Susan, like her mother before her, was a poet and an artist, and with her years as a Navy host, it was no surprise that her home at Bayview was often a showcase for prospective residents. Her apartment, like all her homes before, was a source of pride. It was nicely appointed, meticulously kept, and of course, she was always a gracious host.

Eventually she began to host family reunions that became the highlight of her year, which expanded to include out of state extended family as well as friends that were as close as family. She is succeeded by all her children and their spouses, and nine of her ten grandchildren. Little Jenny, Pat's second daughter, tragically passed more than a dozen years ago at the tender age of seven, leaving a hole in the hearts of our family to this day. Pat, who took Susan to countless doctors appointments, always told her that it was just a good excuse for them to have time together. He and his wife, Sandy, raised their oldest daughter, Stephanie, and are still busy raising Jonathan and Lilliana. Kathy and her husband, Doug, live in Maryland with their two college students, Emma and Sarah. Jeff and his wife, Tami, are busy raising their school age girls, Riley and Megan, in Florida. Erin quite often appeared at a moment's notice to help out Susan out, since she and her husband, Richard, and their children, Max and Xan, lived only ten minutes away. Also, a few years back, Susan brought in a caregiver, Rosi, who has been a tremendous help and with whom she has come to love as part of her ever growing extended family.

Susan's thoughtful and wise counsel will be sorely missed. Her clever turns of phrase will no doubt linger long after her departure. As she always said, growing old isn't for wimps. In her later years, she no longer had good and bad days, just less bad days - all of which she handled with grace and poise. Susan, a role model for all of us, will long be remembered as the kind and gracious Grammy that everyone loved.

Relatives and friends are invited to her Funeral Mass on Saturday September 7, 2019 at 2:00 pm at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church 205 2nd Avenue N., Seattle, WA 98109.

A celebration of Life will be held on Monday September 9, 2019 at 9:30 am at the Bayview Retirement Community 11 West Aloha Street Seattle, WA., 98119.

The interment will be made on Monday September 9, 2019 at 1:15 pm in Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, WA.

In lieu of flowers please donate to either the Lupus Foundation or the Arthritis Foundation.

Arrangements are entrusted to Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Susan Grace Hayes, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Mass

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Starts at 2:00 pm (Pacific time)

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

205 2nd Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Monday, September 9, 2019

Starts at 9:30 am (Pacific time)

Bayview Retirement Community

, Seattle, WA 98119

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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