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Posted: March 13, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Mansfield councilman, business owner, firefighter passes away

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Lamar Hays held on to life until the day of his 47th wedding anniversary, forever turning March 4 into a day of deep, mixed emotions for his wife and three daughters.

"You knew he wouldn’t die at 46 years and 300 and some days," daughter Shelia Massey said. "He held on."

The story of his death will join a myriad of others in the minds of his wife and daughters, who remembered him as a shy, yet open, man — funny, yet serious about work and family. But above all, his wife, Carrie Hays, remembered her husband as a loving, caring man.

"He always took care of me," she said. "Nobody ever had a husband who looked after them like he did for me. He was truly one of a kind."

She couldn’t recall ever even having an actual fight with Lamar, and the family couldn’t remember Lamar ever having a fight with anyone.

"He was a man who truly turned the other cheek," daughter Sandra Johnson said. "He never cussed back. He had all the patience in the world."

That kind of patience, combined with a desire to help, made Lamar a popular and successful business owner. He took over Hays Tractor & Equipment, Inc. in 1951 from his father and his commitment never wavered. His family remembered him as one of the most hard-working and helpful people they knew.

Carrie remembered Lamar working on Sundays because he said the farmers whose tractors were broken down in the field needed him. His third daughter, Susan Boss, remembered him opening the store as early as 2 a.m. if necessary. He even continued to work from his hospital bed.

That work ethic rubbed off on his three daughters, as did his love of farming and tractors. All three of his daughters have worked in his store and Massey is working there now with her son Andrew.

"He taught us always to be loyal to customers and to everyone," Massey said. "The years I’ve worked here have been the best years of my life."

His family described him as a very intelligent man, "a walking computer," "a self-made engineer" and an "inventor." Their favorite stories were about the wealth of information he stored in his head.

"He would know the exact part you needed, the exact isle that part was in," Massey said. "He could quote (parts and prices) off the top of his head."

Whether it was for his famous sayings – "Yes sir, yes sir" and "I don’t mind telling you" – his slow shuffling walk or his 27 years on the Mansfield City Council, people had many memories of Lamar Hays. His family said that more than 700 people came to visit them after the funeral, while many other people could only drive by due to the lack of parking.

Lamar’s death leaves a hole in the lives of his family and friends, but his life leaves behind hearts and minds full of love and wonderful memories.

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