From the Obituary published by McCarthy Funeral Home:
John Haralson Hayes
Dr. John Haralson Hayes, Ph.D., was born Tuesday, February 6, 1934 in Abanda, Alabama, to Mattie and Will Hayes. John had five brothers, Gene, Pfifer, James, Jack, and Roy, and one sister, Frances. After graduating from Five Points High School in 1952, John earned a BA from Samford University in 1956 before earning his BD and PhD degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1960 and 1964, respectively. He also studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland on a Fulbright Scholarship. Throughout his career, John contributed significantly to the study of the Old Testament, and his publications, which include such works as Biblical Exegesis, Amos, the Eighth Century Prophet, and Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, are internationally acclaimed and taught in universities around the world.
In recent years, John added two creative and favorably reviewed works to his long list of published texts, If You Don’t Like the Possum, Enjoy the Sweet Potatoes: Some Principles for Travel along the Road of Life (2010) and his recently-published semi-autobiographical novel, Abanda. Of Possum, journalist and public commentator Bill Moyers wrote, “There’s more wisdom in these pages than in an airlift or convoy of fortune cookies. John’s take on late-night comedians and the news is alone worth the modest price he’s charging for opening our eyes and ears to some good ol’ truths from the school of hard knocks.”
John’s wisdom extended far beyond his classrooms, where he was adored by generations of students he often entertained on his Alabama farm, to his many other roles. He loved his three children, Heather, John, and Megan, with all of his heart and will be dearly missed by all of them. John also leaves a brother and sister-in-law, Gene and Freddie Hayes, a cousin, Jerry W. Coggins, and many, many close friends around the world, whose lives he touched in his own community as well as in his travels across America, throughout Europe and the Middle East, and to Africa. John was known for his great wisdom and humor, which he was able to share with almost anyone due to his fluency in numerous languages, and he could captivate an audience of any size and makeup. John was a leader in the Five Points Baptist Church, where he frequently preached sermons, and was close to the congregation. He also had a way with children and acted as a beloved uncle figure to his friends’ and relatives’ kids. His fishing pond, hay barn, and petting zoo were always open.
Nowhere was John’s gentle nature more apparent than in his treatment of animals. Over the years, he amassed an eclectic assortment of dogs, cats, and cows, each of whom he treated with kindness and respect. Because he spent many long nights tending to his cows and fostering ailing or orphaned calves, it seems fitting that his last conscious memory involved his walking into his pasture with his birthing kit, surrounded by his docile herd, most of whom knew their names and were tame enough to ride.
John’s passing on Thursday, July 11, 2013, after a peaceful last night spent with his loving family and friends by his side, paralleled the closing lines of his final essay: “And when on our day the sun has set, let us pray that the darkness be not long delayed, that short will be that evening journey into night. And may that night kiss us softly on the cheek, and embrace us tenderly in its keep.” The world is a much better place as a result of John’s too brief presence in it, and his legacy will continue through the many people and creatures whose lives he has greatly enriched.