Wabash Mourns Ginny Hays

Jim Amidon — Wabash lost one of its beloved alumnae over the weekend when Virginia “Ginny” Hays passed away in her home.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 5 in the Pioneer Chapel at Wabash College. The family requests that flowers not be sent. Memorial contributions may be made in Ginny’s name to the Montgomery County Community Foundation, Montgomery County Family Crisis Shelter, or MUFFY (details follow at the bottom of the story).

Ginny touched so many lives it’s hard for any one person to sum her up — to pay tribute to her — so please consider sharing your memories by posting a comment to this blog.

Ginny was passionate about and had great love for Wabash College and Crawfordsville. Her late husband, Will ’37, served as mayor of Crawfordsville for eight years and was an active member of the Wabash Board of Trustees from 1960 through 1974.

Ginny loved this community. She served the city as its First Lady and was committed to making Crawfordsville a better place to live. She demonstrated civic leadership by regularly attending City Council meetings, helping found the Montgomery County Community Foundation, creating the Crawfordsville Beautification Committee, and serving on the Boards of the Family Crisis Shelter, the Crawfordsville Country Club, and the local community theater.

She was also elected to — and proudly served — the Crawfordsville School Board.

Indiana Governor Otis Bowen named her a Sagamore of the Wabash for her commitment to Crawfordsville and the state of Indiana.

Ginny loved Wabash — deeply. She was a gracious host at alumni events near and far, and gladly opened her doors to Wabash men when they returned to their alma mater. In 1998, the National Association of Wabash Men welcomed her into the ranks of the alumni body when they named her an Honorary Alumna.

Ginny loved sports — Wabash sports. When I was the sports information director in the 1980s, I would arrive at the stadium on home football Saturdays just after sunrise to prepare for the day. Ginny was always right behind me in order to place her stadium blanket in exactly the right spot — the same spot every week — so that Wabash football players would know she was there and rooting them on to victory.

The same was true at basketball games. Ginny always cheered the Little Giants from right behind their bench.

And win or lose — continuing a tradition begun by her late husband — Ginny would write the teams notes of congratulation to honor their performance.

The NAWM noted her devotion to Wabash athletics and enshrined her in the Wabash College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.

Wabash College has had hundreds of loyal and dedicated alumni in its 175-year history, but few women equal the passion Ginny Hays had for this College.

We shall miss her in the stadium and at Chadwick Court, but we will hold her in our hearts forever.

Friends are invited to post their memories of Ginny to this blog entry.

Photos: On the home page: Ginny with Kathy and John Fox at the Will Hays Visiting Writer event last fall. At top:†Ginny and Kathy at the Phillip Caputo lecture. Bottom picture: Ginny with fellow Wabash Honorary Alumna, Fran Hollett.

Memorial Contributions may be made to the Montgomery County Community Foundation (118 East Main Street, Crawfordsville, IN 47933), MUFFY (190 West Main Street, Crawfordsville, IN 47933) or the Montgomery County Family Crisis Shelter (814 East Market Street, Crawfordsville, IN 47933).

  1. Ginny was truly the grande dame of Crawfordsville. Her dynamic presence at all events, at Wabash and in the community, will be sorely missed.
    ~Chris Amidon

  2. I was introduced to Mrs. Hays last fall. She knew I was in to politics so she invited me to her home where she showed me Bill’s collections of books and memorabilia and told me stories about moving to Indiana and her husband’s time as Mayor. She really was a sweet, thoughtful lady.

  3. I never had the chance to meet Ms. Hays personally, but as a member of the campus community for two years now, I was always aware of her presence on campus or at sporting events. To me, she was an iconic figure, someone I would always ask others about, but would be hesitant to introduce myself to. She was held in such high regard here amongst those that knew her, and it has been incredible to see how her presence was felt by all of us on campus–even if we had never met.
    To me, Ms. Hays is the perfect example of how passion and pride exists amongst those that give everything to something they believe in and care for. I may not have known her personally, but I definitely knew her everlasting passion and pride for Wabash College and the young men who would come and go over the years. Her support for the college and her undying love for this community will always be remembered.

  4. What wonderful memories we have of Bill and Ginny and our days of post-game parties at the farm, trips to away games, letters, Ginny coming to watch Matt play basketball at CHS – the list goes on and on. One of my favorite memories is a recent one – we were in California and came back to Crawfordsville for some lake time. We ended up having lunch with Ginny and then went to her house and looked at old photos of Ginny and Bill. There was one photo of Ginny from the Hollywood days – I thought it was a photo of a 1950’s film star – really an amazing looking woman. It is a sad loss – we were so fortunate to have had her as a friend – what a special woman.

  5. Reflecting on the life of Ginny Hays, we are reminded that Wabash may be a college for men, though not an all-male campus. The Wabash community will miss her presence and support.

  6. Ms. Hays was a wonderful person. She always had a smile and a kind word. She was a loving person and loved Wabash with a passion. I’ll never forget the time she and my mother had lunch. It was while I was abroad. She made such an impression and made my mother feel right at home. I didn’t know her that well, but I always had tremendous respect for her and all she was doing to make Wabash and Crawfordsville a better place to live. I was a beneficiary of the Hays Scholarship while at Wabash. My education and the education of many other Wabash men was made possible by her support.

  7. Steve Miller '08

    During my last semester at Wabash, I had the privilege of having Ms. Hays as a neighbor. I’ll always remember her cheery smile, quick wit, and impeccable dress–no matter the occassion. Even with legendary status, she still made time for the college kids next door. She never missed the opportunity to wave or say a kind word. Her love for Wabash and its students will long be remembered. What a lady…

  8. What a sad day in the life of the College. I count myself lucky enough to have known both Ginny and “her Bill” for the last decade. Bill grew up in Sullivan, Indiana, where I grew up, and both Ginny and Bill were fast friends with my grandparents. I remember doing an eighth-grade book report on Bill’s “Come Home With Me Now.” I was amazed to find myself, four years later, sitting in Bill and Ginny’s living room, with each of them on one side of me, telling me in their own gentle way that Wabash was the only place for me — amazing how they knew it before I did. When I got to know them better on campus, I secretly considered them by Wabash Grandparents, as I’m sure so many others did.
    After Bill passed, I made sure to see Ginny more often. It strikes me now how frequently she would tell me that she knew Bill was with her: at Commencement, Monon Bell games, etc. I think what she was really telling me was that for people like her and Bill who were so in love with the College, they would never really go away. At Bill’s memorial, as they will say at Ginny’s, the spearkers talked about how Bill “loomed large” in the life of the College. I’m sure that with all of the memories put on here, Ginny and “her Bill” will continue to loom large in the Wabash community that they literally made their home.

  9. Mr. and Mrs. Hays were always in the stands for our basketball games. Win or lose, we always had a hand written note posted in the locker room the next day showing their support. Just as Mr. Hays left a legacy on Crawfordsville and Wabash, Mrs. Hays has done the same. I was lucky to have known them both. Some Little Giants!

  10. I still remember the first day I arrived at Wabash with my dad. That day, we met Mrs. Hays. From that day on, everytime I saw her around campus or in sporting events, she would wave with a huge smile on her face. This is the way I will remember her. When I walk past her home, I will smile back at her, like she always did.
    Thank you Mrs. Hays for reminding me to smile! Gracias! May you rest in peace.
    Josue Gutierrez Guerra

  11. Rev. John E. Sowers

    I remember Ginny so well for all the many times we were able to talk. While a student, I would go over an visit at Bill and Ginny’s beautiful home. In church I sat just behind them until Ginny said I should sit with them. (I was little shy to do so because Bill and Ginny seemed like such important people.) How wonderful it was for Ginny to open that door of friendship! Ginny was so important, but also so down to earth and vibrant as well.
    As the years rolled on, after Wabash, I would stop and see Ginny whenever I was in Crawfordsville. How I will miss stopping by the house and just talking. It still doesn’t seem real that I will not be able to just stop by.
    You will be missed but never forgotten. You were and are: “Some Little Giant.” I know Bill must have been there to ring you into the infinite.
    I will be there in spirit on Sunday. As with most Sundays I must lead my congregation and the distance not allow me to attend the service.

  12. Freshman year, guarding the bell in front of the Allen Center, it was Ms. Hays’ doorstep that my pledgebrothers and I found ourselves at. We needed matches to light our fire barrel. Ginny gathered them and sent us on our way.
    An hour or so later, Ginny walked over with a brown paper bag in her hands. Inside were several steaming-hot, baked potatoes.
    “Now, put these and your pockets and keep your hands warm and when they cool down, have yourself a snack,” she said.
    Ginny lived a life devoted to the betterment of those around her; she lead us all by the power of her example. Wabash is a better community to have had Ginny, and her warm smile and thoughtful compassion will be missed.

  13. I remember seeing Ginny Hays at many campus events while a student at Wabash, but it was only back in April 2008 at Coach Johnson’s retirement celebration that I was fortunate enough to sit next to Ginny at my table and talk with her and other Wabash community members throughout the evening. We talked about my time at Wabash, my experiences since college, and throughout she was beaming with pride at the success of many Wabash community members as well as her own family members. Speaking with her that night made me realize once again why I chose Wabash in the first place: a second home away from home where community members will make you feel welcome because they know you share their ideals, hopes and dreams. That was a very special night for me, and I’m glad I was able to meet Mrs. Hays and spend a few quality hours with her and her friends.
    In Wabash,
    Michael Foster ’01

  14. C. Davies Reed, Class of 1985

    I tended bar for Bill and Ginny both at the Farm and in town during my years as a student. Then as Assistant Director of Admissions I lived on Harry Freedman Place and was a neighbor. On more than one occasion during a Sunday evening walk Ginny would stick her head out the front door and call me in for a visit which often turned into supper. Their hospitality was elegant and comfortable. I will miss my friend Mrs. Virginia Henderson Hays.

  15. I remember Ginny from the days we modeled for Heathcliffs. What a classy lady and a very kind and loving person. We only modeled together a couple of times but she always remembered me no matter where we saw each other. She will be sadly missed and loved by all.

  16. Ginny Hays was one of the great Wabash Ladies of all time. To call her a lady, however, is an incomplete compliment. She was a classy, smart, and friendly lady, whom I got to know mostly cheering together for the Wabash basketball team, joining alumni in Indianapolis, or schmoozing on campus. She will be missed by the host of Wabash.

  17. Like everyone else, I have so many fond memories of Ginny.
    My senior year I did an independent study project examining the rhetoric of Will H. Hays, Sr. At the end of this project I compiled many of the artifacts into a small book-like form entitled “Will H. Hays Speaks”.
    Ginny was as excited about my endeavor as I was. She knew how proud Bill would have been of this unique journey that I was on to learn more about his father and her father-in-law. She spent countless hours with me and helped me conquer a mountain of information. To my knowledge, this information was previously untapped in our comprehension of the many contributions of Mr. Hays.
    Through the time of my project Ginny shared suggestions, memories, stories, pictures, books, her laughter, her bright smile and her innate wisdom.
    One afternoon, Ginny and I went to the farm. We spent the whole afternoon there. While there she showed me and explainted to me many of Mr. Hays artifacts from his time in Hollywood, Washington and New York.
    I will always treasure the fact she encouraged me to continue my project long after graduating. Indeed, I have.
    I will always remember her strength, her encouragement, and her passion of education for a lifetime!

  18. Beau Barrett '98

    Ginny was an exceptional woman who always had a smile on her face. I can remember my first couple of years when our basketball team really struggled, you could count on Ginny being right there behind our bench every home game cheering us on as if every game was the championship. She and Bill embody what the Wabash spirit is all about and while her support and presence will be sorely missed, her legacy will live on forever!

  19. Marty Brown '06

    I met Mrs. Hays, and her daughter Kathy, in the fall of 2005 at her home across from the Allen Center. I had been directed there by Mrs. Hays’ son-in-law, John Fox. I was going through the recruiting process with John’s former company, and he asked that I stop by Mrs. Hays’ home and leave my resume with her. I was unsure how she would react to a stranger showing up at her door with a resume. However, her daughter answered the door to the beautiful home and I immediately felt welcome. I explained how I had met John (at the Monon Stag event in Indianapolis) and what my plans were for after graduation. They both smiled and told a couple stories about John and his time with the company. This was the only time I met Mrs. Hays, but I was amazed by the kindness she showed me (a complete stranger!). She must have worked her magic on the resume as well, since a few weeks later, I interviewed with the company and was offered the job I’ve had since graduation. Although I only met her briefly, I know she will be missed by our community.

  20. I remember the first time I met Mrs. Hays. It was my freshman year at Wabash in the spring semester of 04′. I had received a letter in the mail one day about a scholarship luncheon due to the Hay’s Scholarship I had received. I looked forward to the lunch because it meant a lot to me that I was going to finally meet Mrs. Hays. As I arrived to the luncheon, I found the table I was supposed to be at and Mrs. Hays was sitting in a chair right next to me. She greeted me with open arms and a smile. We talked for hours about her life and mine, and I thanked her so much for being a Sponsor of mine. The thing I will remember most about her is the love she had for the College and her passion to help support the College and its students in everway possible. I am happy that I had the chance to meet Mrs. Hays and to have known her. Even though she didn’t know me when we first met her, I will never forget the conversations we had. Thanks for all your support Mrs. Hays. You were an amazing person and exemplify everything Wabash College is about. You’ll forever be in our hearts!
    Josh Dirig 07′

  21. Connie L. Harris, former asst. dean

    My sincere sympathy to the Hays family and to the Wabash community. Ginny was a true lady, a strong woman and a gracious friend to so many of us. Back in 1997 when I joined the Wabash development staff, she intentionally made time to get to know me. Even after I moved on, I cannot recall Wabash College without vivid memories of Ginny.
    I am so sorry to learn of her passing.

  22. It took several months for news of Ginny Hay’s passing to reach the east coast. My parents, Charles and Betty Blaney, were great friends of Ginny and Bill back in the 60’s and early 70’s and I remember visiting with them many times while is was in high school.

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