Dr. Ruth Everstine Washington Hayes was born in Bessmay, Texas (Jasper County) on November 21, 1931 . She was the third of four children born to Jordan Sr. and Ruth Washington. Dr. Hayes attended Bessmay Colored School until 10th grade. Her parents relocated to Lufkin, Texas before her 11th grade year, where she subsequently attended and graduated from Dunbar High School. In Lufkin, her father worked as a school principal and her mother a home economics teacher.
Dr. Hayes entered Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) in June 1949, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Home Economics in May 1952. In September 1952 she married then 2nd Lieutenant Alvin Hayes Sr., a 1951 PVAMU graduate. Soon after their marriage, Alvin Sr. was deployed to the Korean War. Upon Alvin Sr.’s return from Korea, the couple settled in Long Beach, California and began their life-long participation in community service. Dr. Hayes earned a Master of Arts Degree in 1969 from USC, and Doctor of Education Degree in 1986 from Nova Southeastern University. In addition to teaching at Burnett, Signal Hill, Lincoln, Mann, and Muir Elementary Schools, she worked in the Early Childhood Learning and Child Development Center Offices in Long Beach School District. Her distinguished work led to a seven-year special assignment at the Los Angeles County Superintendent’s Office working with the Head Start Programs in 14 communities and 19 school districts. Ruth was selected by former Long Beach Mayor Kell to be a member of his Task Force on Child Care, traveling as part of the special child development delegation to China in 1993. She retired in 1995 after 28 years of dedicated service to the students and parents of the Long Beach Unified School District.
Dr. Hayes served as president of Burnett Elementary School PTA, the Beta Beta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, and the National Council of Negro Women Long Beach Section. During her tenure as NCNW Section President, she attended several trips to Washington D.C and worked alongside of Executive Directive Dr. Dorothy Height. She was Board Member Emeritus of College Bound. She was a past board member of the Young Horizons Child Development Program, Teen Advisor of the Long Beach Chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction, board member of the African American Coordinating Council, and former board member of the Stroke Survival Support arm of the local Stroke Association. She was an active supporter of the Long Beach Chapter of the NAACP. She was a charter member of the Diamonds of Southbay Chapter of the American Businesswomen’s Association. For over 60 years she has supported her beloved Prairie View A&M University as a donor and member of the Los Angeles Alumni Chapter.
Dr. Hayes served as a member and also the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Long Beach Community Improvement League (LBCIL) for several years. During the span of her long services to the LBCIL, she never missed a board meeting and despite beginning to experience failing health, she attended the May 28, 2021 virtual board meeting. During her tenure at the LBCIL, she took very active and instrumental role in staff training and child care and development programs serving thousands of low-income children and families. That was attributed to her extensive educational background and vast experience and knowledge in Early Childhood Education.
Born and raised in the church, Dr. Hayes’ faith in God formed the foundation of who she was and shaped her ongoing support of family, friends, and community. As a teenager she played piano for the church choir. A soprano, she had a beautiful voice. As a member of Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church for over 60 years, she worked with the Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Women’s Missionary Society. At the time of her death, she was a proud member of the New Philadelphia African Methodist Episcopal Church, where she continued to inspire others with her words of wisdom, support, and sense of humor.
To say Dr. Hayes had numerous skills and talents is an understatement. Post-retirement she was an avid square dancer and clogger with several local senior centers, including Jarvis Senior Center. She performed in public with the Yellow Rockers, attending several dance conferences in and out of town. One of her favorite trips was a road trip to Branson, Missouri. She was a fantastic cook, providing voluntary catering support to family, friends, affiliated organizations, and church. She was an expert seamstress and milliner (hat maker), making not only her own clothes, but for her children, grandchildren, extended family, and friends. As engrained in her by her parents, Ruth believed in the details, and did not accept any garment being “thrown together.” Two guiding principles of her life were, “Don’t do anything half-way,” and “Finish what you start.” Dr. Hayes was always “put together,” widely known for her sense of fashion. She rarely left home without coordinated hat, shoes, clothes, and purse. For several years she was in involved in the former Charter Communications public access media program, winning an award for her outstanding achievements in video. She also became the family videographer. She believed in staying current, which included taking courses in Microsoft Office and email in her seventies and learning how to use her cell phone in her eighties.
Dr. Hayes genuinely believed in family. She was a phenomenal mother. She was actively involved in the lives of her children, Alvin Jr. and Phyllis. She encouraged them to reach for the stars, making the physical and financial sacrifices needed for them to be successful. She attended all their athletic, musical, and academic events. This commitment extended to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She traveled in and out of state to support her grandchildren in music and gymnastics competitions. She became the adopted grandmother by other families Lakewood YMCA Gymnastics Center. She has been the emotional glue for not only her immediate family, but also extended family across the country, friends, and those who adopted her as a special mother figure and confidante. She was always quick to provide financial assistance to those in need, especially youth. She did so quietly, without fanfare. To this day, numerous former students, parents/grandparents, and employees talk of the positive impact Dr. Hayes made on their lives.
Dr. Hayes was preceded in death by her husband of 50 years, Col. Alvin Hayes, Sr; brother George Washington, and sister Phyllis Washington. She is survived by son Alvin Hayes Jr.; daughter Rev. Dr. Phyllis Hayes-Reams (Dr. Lester Reams); brother Jordan Washington Jr. (Ella Ann Washington); grandchildren Michaella Hayes Carter (Robert Carter Jr.), Alvin Hayes III (Carla Camu), Phyllisa Reams, and Alexander Reams; great-grandchildren Faith Marie Hayes and Ramses Carter; and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.
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Long Beach Community Improvement League
2222 Olive Avenue, Long Beach CA 90806