The University of Chicago News Office
August 1, 2004 Press Contact: William Harms
(773) 702-8356

Albert M. Hayes

Albert M. Hayes, Professor Emeritus in English at the University of Chicago, died July 14th at his home in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He was 94. He had lived in Hyde Park since 1943 when he came to teach humanities to undergraduates in the College at the University of Chicago.

Students from those days remember the “magical meticulousness” with which he took material from their reading and carefully helped them unfold the meaning within the words, said his step-daughter, Francie Shaw. Hayes won the University’s prestigious the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1948.

Under a Fulbright grant, he spent the academic year 1955-56 with his family at the University of the Philippines in Manila. He created a humanities program there similar to the program at the University of Chicago.

The three-month gap between the end of school in the Philippines and the beginning of the academic year in Chicago allowed the family to return by freighter through Southeast Asia to Europe. Beginning in 1969, he served as registrar of the University of Chicago and occasionally taught in the English Department until he retired in 1978.

Hayes’ commitment to academic life was supplemented by a deep commitment to his church and to Hyde Park. In the 1950s and 1960s he worked with the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference to help stabilize the neighborhood as a multi-racial, multi-ethnic community, Shaw said. Hyde Park was organized into block groups that welcomed newcomers and shared information about the community.

He was among a group of citizens who created the Harper Court Foundation, a non-profit organization that established a space where small businesses could continue to serve the community after urban renewal had displaced them. He was a board member for many years and served as secretary, president, and treasurer.

Hayes held many positions at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, from Sunday school teacher to treasurer. He served also as treasurer of the Western Unitarian Conference. He was instrumental in founding Camp Unistar, a Unitarian-Universalist family camp on Star Island in Minnesota. He created new board structures, banished poison ivy, and planned programming for several years.

The last Hyde Park community that Albert has been involved in was Montgomery Place. He and his wife Alice moved there when it opened and have been active residents ever since. Recently they coauthored a book with several other residents, In It Together, about he first ten years of the retirement community.

Hayes was a native of Milwaukee and received an A.B. from Dartmouth College in 1930 and a Ph.D. in 1933 from Princeton. He taught at Duquesne University and Bowling Green State University before joining the Chicago faculty. His specialties were poetry and criticism.

Known for his laugh, Hayes has brought patience and humor to all of these communities, Shaw added. His family, most of all, has relied on him for advice and support, she said. His first wife, Elizabeth, died 25 years ago. He leaves his second wife, Alice, his daughter Judith Weir, St. Paul, MN; his son Knox Hayes, of Arlington, VA; four grandchildren; and four great grandchildren.

A memorial service was held at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. Shore Drive, on July 28th at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Ragdale Foundation (1260 N. Green Bay Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045) or the First Unitarian Church of Chicago (5650 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637).
Last modified at 04:14 PM CST on Wednesday, August 04, 2004.

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