Elmer Henry Hayes of Stratford passed away peacefully in his sleep early Saturday morning, May 2, 2020, in Palliative Care at Marshfield Medical Center, 7 days after his 94th birthday.
Elmer was born April 25, 1926, at Sechlerville, Jackson County, WI. He was the eldest son of Henry and Thea (Martin) Hayes. He graduated from Hixton High School in 1944 and from the University of Stevens Point in 1949. His first teaching job was in a one room school house in Curran Valley near Hixton.
He taught briefly at Washington Island, Wisconsin, before being drafted in the United States Army at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, from 1951 to 1953. After teaching 2 years at Centuria, Wisconsin, he then accepted a position of teaching history and music at Stratford High School. There he met and married his wife Marjorie A Zoellner at Zion Lutheran Church in Stratford on May 31, 1958. He retired from teaching in May 1988 and volunteered teaching music at St Joseph’s Parochial School in Stratford for 15 years.
Elmer was active in the community with village board, village president, historical society and library committee. He was a member of Zion Lutheran Church. He was active in church functions—confirmation teacher, choir director, and special memories of the Easter production of “He Lived the Good Life!” performed at many churches.
He influenced many lives with his love of music. He was extremely proud of his high school bands and students. At music concerts it was a must to have a John Phillip Sousa march. He was known for his marching band turns known as the minstrel turn. In his later years he was privileged to play in many old time music bands from high school bands to Johnny Check’s Concertina Orchestra, Dick Rodgers Orchestra, Tuba Dan and the Polkalanders, and at the tender age of 80 he started up the Hayes Boys Orchestra. He had jazz bands and more importantly, his polka bands. In his later years when he would meet former students, if he couldn’t remember their names, he knew the musical instrument they played.
He was very proud to be an honorary member of the Stratford VFW. He was called upon to play taps as far back as grade school and continued to do so until a couple years ago. He was privileged to be on the Honor Flight with his daughter accompanying him in May 2017. Because of the years he played taps he was featured as a Person of the Week on ABC World News for Memorial Day.
He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and uncle. He was known for his dry sense of humor. He was an avid reader and loved history.
Elmer is survived by his wife. He is lovingly survived by his 3 adult children: Bonnie of Marshfield, Thomas (Deborah) and Daniel of Stratford; two granddaughters: Hannah and Hailey. He is also survived by many nephews and nieces.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Curtis and James, and sisters-in-law Dona and Ardella.
Due to the gathering restrictions there will be no funeral. He will be cremated. There will be a Celebration of Life planned at a later date.
A scholarship has been established in Elmer’s name through Stratford High School, PO Box 7, Stratford,WI 54484.
The family wishes to express their sincerest thanks to the caring and competent staff of the Palliative Care Unit, especially Kristine NP, Sarah DNP, and nurses Melissa, Pam and Mandy.
We love you, Dad. We will ALWAYS love you.