Amherst Magazine

John D. Hayden '64

Deceased March 19, 2006

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In Memory

At first there were twelve on the fourth floor of Pratt. Now there are ten, with the loss of John Hayden.

For those of us who have stayed in touch with John, it is just incomprehensible that he is no longer with us. The last time I saw him was in October of last year at the wedding of Bill Zeigler's daughter in New York. He was the picture of health, vitality, and happiness. In fact, I have never seen John happier. He and Karyl, whom we all first met at the 25th, were enjoying the good life in Boise.

After stints in the Marines, Harvard Business School, and Chrysler in his hometown of Detroit, John moved west to join Boise Cascade. Some time went by and John had an opportunity to buy into a beer and wine distributorship. It wasn't long before John bought out his partner and built Hayden Beverage into the largest distributor in the state. John's son, Dodds, joined him in the business. They were in the final stages of completing a new office/warehouse complex that John designed when he told Karyl he wasn't feeling well. Diagnosed with liver cancer, John successfully went through an eleven-hour operation, or so it appeared. Tragically, he was inflicted with a staph infection, followed by a shutdown of his liver and kidneys. All of that appeared to have been resolved when he came down with pneumonia, which led to his passing on March 19.

Those are pretty much the facts, but they only speak marginally to the man.

John's son, Dodds, speaks of his dad in a way all of us hope our children would speak of us:

"As a businessman, he was disciplined, conservative, fiercely competitive, and showed great will. He loved his company, and everyone who received a Hayden paycheck was family. (Not that that was any free ride; he fired me for being late to work when I was seventeen.)

As a father he was a great friend, but he did not let that interfere with his primary role as father. He was clear about expectations and consequences, and he was fair in their delivery. There was never a question about his pride in us and who we had become. He was generous, but clear about us making our own way.

He embodied an odd combination of being a great role model and example for a son to follow, an intimidating figure who was protective of his assets and his security, and a loving man with a great sense of humor and passion for his family.

I count myself among the most fortunate people I know. I had his guidance as a father and a business partner, his love, his friendship, and his companionship."

Those of us who knew John at Amherst knew only what he wanted us to know. For years that wasn't too much, and for some it was just Big Bad John. He was his own person in every sense of the word. You always knew where you stood with John. What we didn't know until many years after Amherst was just how talented he was and how much "range" he had. We visited John in his new home on top of a mountain outside Boise in the spring of 2005. John designed it, built it, and loved it. It is truly a spectacular place. My wife wants one just like it. You could sense John's love of architecture and art throughout their home. During our visit he prepared a wonderful dinner for us. In our Amherst days, many of us could have envisioned John as a successful businessman, but how many of us would have pegged Hayden as an architect, interior designer, advocate of modern art, and a helluva cook? John also served on the board for the Idaho State Prison system and was instrumental in many important reforms. Hayden--a Renaissance Man? Absolutely, and a wonderful husband and father to boot. We all, and especially Karyl and the children, lost one of the very good guys well, well before his time.

David Stringer '64

 

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