Luther Hays Presbyterian Church proclaimed June 21 as "Dixon Hays Day"— a fitting tribute to the life, testimony and labor of a man who grew up in the church, is faithful in all of the worship and activities, and has served as treasurer for the past 25 years.
The Rev. Carl Smith, former pastor of Luther Hays Presbyterian Church, described Hays as a faithful member, steward and treasurer — always having his reports on time, always careful to keep clear records.
The first Hays came from Virginia and built a log home in 1820, a half of a mile from Hays home. Born in 1928 to James D. Hays and Ruth Ewing Hays, Dixon has always been a good steward of the land and preserved family history.
He and his wife, Marilyn, married in 1950. They have a daughter, Melinda Lord and a son Julius Hays and four granddaughters, Jennifer, Mary Beth, Rebecca and Jessica.
After graduating as valedictorian in 1945 from Mansfield High School, Hays joined his father’s business as a dairy farmer. He and his brother, Pleas, took over the business in 1965 and sold it in 1996. Now retired, Hays owns and leases out 100 acres in Morgan and 100 acres in Newton County.
"I enjoyed it, but it was a rough life because it was seven days a week," said Hays of his 49-year and 10-month career. "A lot of folks look forward to holidays, but that was the day we really had to work because all the help wanted to get off."
Hays said he never gets bored and enjoys helping people. He is the treasurer for five bank accounts — two at church, the Hays family cemetery, Hays Heritage and the Mansfield Community Center. He has served for the past 32 years on the board for Newton Medical and for the past 13 years for the Snapping Shoals Electric Trust Fund.
Over the years, Hays has served on the board of First National Bank, Madison Production Credit Association, Farm Home Administration, Farm Service Agency; and the Newton County Planning Commission.
"He is a community leader and has been a community servant his entire adult life," said District One Commissioner T.M. Ewing. "Even at his age, he continues to give back to Newton County and sets an example that others should follow."
Hays thought of all the progress and changes he has seen over his lifetime. He had vivid memories of growing up during the depression. His father’s car was jacked up because he couldn’t afford to run it any more. He remembers a passerby who offered to sweep their yard for a dime, but they didn’t have a dime to pay the man.
"People didn’t have cars like they have now," said Hays. "People had to walk to church. Now they’ve got cars, and they still can’t get there. Back then, we worked mules, and now they have fancy tractors with cabs and radios and air conditioning."
Hays said the key is not to buy more than you can pay for. He encourages people to trust in God to see them through and shares the same advice he gave his children.
"You’ve got to be prepared for a rainy day because the sun ain’t going to shine every day, and when something happens, you’ve got to have some money in reserve." He cautioned his three oldest granddaughters that their education and the men they marry will determine how they will live the rest of their life.
Hays and his wife still live in the same house as when they married. As the years went by, his friends told him he would be better off to tear it down and start over rather than adding on.
Hays said, "I don’t think so — what I’ve got is paid for and I can add on as I want to." The renovated house is eight rooms and two baths with a beautifully manicured yard.
Hays offers this advice for a happy life.
"If you live in a Christian way, go to church and get your children involved in church, you are more likely to stay out of trouble and live right."