Feb. 22, 1948 – Sept. 9, 2022

GILA HOT SPRINGS, N.M. — The circumstances of Frank Hayes’s birth 74 years ago should have alerted the world to the arrival of a unique human being.

Born in Rochester, N.H., he was the second child of a Massachusetts couple, Charles and Jean Proctor Hayes. The Hayes family came from an old line of New England settlers. The Proctor relatives on his mother’s side were also old New England, being descended from John Proctor, who was convicted in the Salem Witch Trials and hanged in the year 1692.

Frank died in Albuquerque, N.M., on Sept. 9, 2022.

At Eliot (Maine) High School, Frank demonstrated an outrageous sense of humor, as well as impressive athletic talent. He was known especially for his skills as a linebacker and pass-catching fullback on Eliot High’s winning football team. Through football, he bonded with life-long friends Dan Horton and Fred Lawrence. Years later, his younger son Sam carried on the football tradition established by his father when he earned All-State honors as an end on the 2000 Belfast Area High School football team.

After high school, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam. Although he became an outspoken opponent of the war, he remained proud of his two Purple Heart decorations and his status as a veteran.

Receiving a posting to the Panama Canal Zone at the end of his military career, Frank returned to the U.S. with his first wife, Panamanian Marina Perez. They had two daughters, Jana and Jessica Jean or JJ.

One of the great adventures of his life was a return trip to Panama, where he hitchhiked from the U.S./Mexican border while in his early 20s. Being challenged and threatened by armed border guards in Central America were common occurrences on this dangerous journey of more than 2,000 miles round-trip.

For several years Frank lived among the Nez Perce on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington. There he and second wife Jeanne Lagasse began raising what would become a family with three more children, and he developed an interest in nature photography. In later years, that interest became a professional one, as he sold nature prints through several New Mexico outlets.

Over many years, Frank and his family lived in a variety of small Maine
towns. In those communities, he coached youth baseball and football
teams. He passed on bits of coaching wisdom to the children he inspired,
including old-school gems like “Rub it up” and “Walk it off” for bumps and
bruises.

On the natural/philosophical side he believed that “Every living thing is our relation.” Whether the wound was suffered in sports or in life, Frank knew ways to heal his players. As proof, a number of them remained in touch with “Coach Hayes” up to the current year.

In 2006, Frank met his future wife and the love of his life in Gila Hot Springs, N.M. Susan Whitehorse is a woman proud of her Chiricahua Apache ancestors. On their first date, a hike in the mountains of the Gila Wilderness, a bear crossed their path and became an omen of the happy years they were to spend together.

Frank is survived by his first wife Marina of Salinas, Calif.; daughters Jana of Fairbanks, Alaska, and JJ (Charles) Leonard of Hughson, Calif.; son Joe of Farmingdale; daughter Weatalo (Garrett Friedman) of Tampa, Fla.; granddaughters Maisyn and Charlie Leonard; the joy of his later years, granddaughter Laurel Hayes; and his beloved Susan of Gila Hot Springs, N.M.

A memorial service in the Gila Wilderness is to be scheduled at a later date.

filed under: