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Published: Thursday, 3/22/2001

Retired iron works co-founder admired for his people insights

Paul E. “Deacon” Hayes, who with his brothers founded an ornamental ironworks firm that thrived in the post-World War II building boom, died from complications of Alzheimer's disease Tuesday in his South Toledo home. He was 85.

He had the brain disorder about seven years, his daughter Kathleen Heaney said.

Mr. Hayes and brothers Ken and Vince, back from Navy service during World War II, formed Hayes Bros. Ornamental Iron Works, 1830 North Reynolds Rd., in 1946. Brother Ellsworth was part of the firm in the early years.

At first, “they would take in any kind of work at all; they sharpened lawnmowers, they worked on trailers,” Paul's son, Doug, said. He is company treasurer, the same title his father carried.

“But what they really wanted to do was get into the residential railing market,” he said. “The design is simple, and they knew how to build them. The residential market in Toledo mushroomed, and they were in the right place to take advantage of them.”

Stair railings and porch columns were made for houses and apartments throughout the Toledo area.

Mr. Hayes invented two machines the company used: one to hammer bar steel to make it look like wrought iron and another to twist bar steel.

“They would build anything anyone would ask them to make out of steel,” his son said. The brothers “knew how to work out their differences. They'd have monthly meetings. They'd say things that were strictly business, and it was forgotten the next day. They depended on each other.”

A trait that served Paul Hayes well was “he liked everybody,” Doug Hayes said. “People who were disagreeable, my dad could talk to them and five minutes later, they were friends. You would scratch your head and wonder, `How did he do that?'”

Daughter Kathleen said: “One of his philosophies was, `If you don't have a good time, it's your own fault.' But he was a very devoted family man.”

Vince retired in the late 1970s, followed by Ken and Paul in the early 1980s.

The company is owned by Paul's sons Gary, Greg, and Doug, and Ken's son Pat.

Mr. Hayes grew up on Hayes Road, attended Central Catholic High School, and was a graduate of the former DeVilbiss High School. He worked delivering furniture until he enlisted in the Navy. He was home on leave on Dec. 7, 1941, and was called to active duty immediately after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.

He served aboard surface craft in the Pacific.

Mr. Hayes was a member of American Legion Adams Township Post 553, of which he was chaplain emeritus and a past commander.

He coached his sons' sports teams and helped his son Greg's Boy Scout troop. He golfed with the American Legion league at Cherrywood Golf Club in Whiteford Township, Michigan, and at Spuyten Duyval Golf Club with the Hayes Bros. league he formed.

He was a member of a barber shop chorus. He was a regular writer of letters to the editor of The Blade and, on occasion, lamented the loss of the former Adams Township, where his home was located before annexation into Toledo.

“He always felt the smaller government was better,” son Doug said.

Surviving are his wife, Agnes, whom he married June 1, 1946; sons, Gary, Daniel, James, Douglas, and Gregory; daughters, Kathleen Heaney, Paulette Walker, and Sharon Holtz; brothers, Ellsworth and Roy; sister, Virginia Eskra; 13 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the W.K. Sujkowski & Son Mortuary after 2 p.m. tomorrow, with an American Legion service by Adams Township Post 553 at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, where he was a member.

The family requests tributes to Visiting Nurse Hospice or to the church.



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