In Memory

Robert D. Hayward - Class Of 1939

Robert D. Hayward '39 passed away quietly on January 24, 2008 one week before his 86th birthday, after a year-long losing battle with cancer.

Robert didn't graduate from SPHS (though he grew up there and was well remembered by others) but his brother and sister did.  He had no fear of death as do most of his generation who participated in WW II, called the greatest generation by Tom Brokaw.  He was a gentle, humble, unassuming person whom you would never suspect, as a WW II combat infantryman, had single-handedly captured 60 Germans.  While he did not pooh-pooh it, he said they wanted to surrender and he simply made it possible - a gross understatement - said as though it was only a walk in the park without danger.  He put it accurately later, surrendering was at times an art-form on the German front because of numerous times when surrendering by German soldiers was a ruse used prior to an attack thus making an actual surrender subject, first, to doubt.

Robert was born January 31, 1922 and grew up in South Pasadena, in the shadow of the Oneonta Hills; spent his high school years at Thatcher in Ojai; spent a short time at Occidental College before joining the Army ASTP Officer's training program.  This was indeed short-lived; the planned invasion of France and its expected casualties meant all able-bodied men were to be placed in a reserve status, ready to fill a "gap."  Officers training of thousands like Robert's was abruptly cancelled.  Fill a "gap" was Robert's fate as it was for thousands of others like him.  Robert was on the front line in Belgium 120 days after the invasion as a buck-private, and it was on this front that he took 60 German soldiers captive.  He was, indeed, brave and fearless.  Robert was a part of the occupation forces after the defeat of the German army, but he did spend a handful of months in Biarritz, France, where, incidentally, he saved a drowning swimmer in rough surf before being shipped "home" on a transport.

After his discharge, he returned to Occidental College, but this too, was short-lived; too much war to forget about.  But he did meet his first wife there, Gretchen.  They had four children: Chris, Kirk, Kimberly, and Sabrina, all of whom survive him.  Robert was a brilliant maverick whose entrepreneurial spirit, constant optimistic outlook, and ceaseless inquisitive mind played a major part in his business ventures after he left his father's lumber business.  He seemed to be happiest when he was on the cutting edge of something, whether it was trying to extract ingredients for the food chain from seaweed or developing an ionic filtering system, which he did and which, incidentally, bears his name to this day.  His life has never been dull, and he was an excellent tennis player to which his tennis partners and opponents can attest.  There was never a person who could ask, without malice, so many questions of another as could Robert.  He was simply interested in other people, and he was a genuine friend, husband, and father. 

Robert never had a mean or disagreeable thing to say about anyone in spite of the fact that his experiences might have made the reverse understandable.  A few years after his divorce from Gretchen, he met and married his second wife, Rachael, 35 years ago.  Their steadfast, loving relationship has stood the test of time, and her loyal support of Robert "through thick and thin" has been a marvel.  She was at his bedside when he slipped from a coma and "passed the bar" into the loving arms of our Lord.  Yes, he will be missed.  He will be a tough act to follow.  His life embodied a love of life that enriched the lives of everyone around him, certainly those of his brother, Bud (SPHS '41), his sister, Jane Jorgensen (SPHS '44) and his predeceased sister, Nancy Krenzel.  His mother and father, Sam and Andrea Hayward, could be deservedly proud.