Hays Jr., Harry*
HAYS Jr., HARRY A. "The Last of the Savoy Players" Harry A. Hays Jr., age 98, a resident of San Diego since July 4, 1925, and a 1928 graduate of San Diego High School, died April 7, 2009, at Brighton Gardens in Carmel Valley. Mr. Hays arrived here with his parents, Harry A. Hays Sr. and Ruby Kisman Hays, to join the cast of the well-remembered and much loved Savoy Players, a local theatrical stock company. His first performance at age 15, was as Joey Shanks in "The Copperhead" followed by many hits such as "Pigs" and "Unusual Weather." Mr. Hays was the first baby in arms to be permitted aboard the "Cotton Blossom" river boat made famous by Edna Ferber in her book Show Boat. After the river boat tour, the Hays family trouped through Louisiana, Texas, and California on what was known as a tent show called "Murphy's Comedians." Harry often told the story of jumping from one town to another in his father's touring sedan with his mom and dad in the front seat, his grandmother with seven canaries in cages, and himself in the back seat, and opening the door to let "Topsy" his pony in to stand in front of his grandmother and himself! His longest stay in any one town was 56 weeks in Sacramento, where his father invested in a theater which burned down. Other than that, his early years were spent in one or two week stands, sleeping in his dad's trunk, living in hotels and rooming houses. Mr. Hays was affiliated with the Delta Sigma Fraternity, holding every office including three consecutive terms as President. He was fundamental in reviving the chapter quarterly luncheon meetings and was awarded the honor of President "ad infinitum." He was also chairman of his 50th, 60th, and 65th high school reunions, all very successful. On December 7, 1942, during World War II, Mr. Hays enlisted in the Navy serving on Guadalcanal and returning to the San Francisco area before being discharged. Since 1957, he had been associated with the steel industry. Harry is survived by his son Daniel who lives in Carmel Valley, his daughter Melissa who lives in Mendocino, his sister Mary of McKinleyville, CA, and six grandchildren. Mrs. Olive Hays, his wife of 45 years, passed away in June, 1984. Mr. Hays' ashes will be interred at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
Published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on 4/12/2009