Hundreds turn out to remember Hayes
Mary Eshbaugh Hayes didn’t want a fuss made over her after she died of pancreatic cancer in January. But the woman who did so much to chronicle the life and times of Aspen and its residents for more than 50 years couldn’t get off that easy.
Hundreds of Aspen residents turned out for a party to remember Hayes at the Aspen Historical Society grounds Saturday afternoon. Rain and chilly conditions didn’t dampen the mood.
The crowd included several former reporters and photographers that Hayes helped guide during her decades as a reporter and editor at The Aspen Times. “Old Aspen” — people who have lived in the town for decades — showed up in force. There were former mayors, civic leaders, artists, ski patrollers and friends.
Hayes would have appreciated that the ceremony was simple — very little fuss. Mostly, it was just people hanging out visiting, trading gossip and catching up on lost years.
Hayes’ daughter and spitting image, Pauli Hayes, spent most of the afternoon at the open-air entrance tent greeting people, overseeing the sign-in book and — in a reflection of the relaxed atmosphere of the event — selling thick-rimmed, clear glasses that were copies of the signature spectacles that Hayes wore.
“We’re an irreverent family,” Pauli said. “Mary would have gotten such a kick out of this.”
The glasses were sold for $3 to raise funds for the Aspen Historical Society. Hayes was a member of the nonprofit organization’s board of directors and a tireless supporter of its causes while working as a reporter, editor and columnist at The Aspen Times. Attendees loved the tribute and many snatched up the spectacles.
The ceremony consisted of just one speaker selected by the family rather than a long line of people conjuring up their favorites tales of Mary. Andy Stone, a longtime friend and colleague of Hayes’ at The Aspen Times, added his usual panache to the event by both honoring Hayes and keeping the crowd chuckling.
He recalled that when he was first hired at the Times, Mary was the only other reporter. She helped him find his bearings, and they shared many a laugh despite an often overwhelming workload of producing stories. Stone recalled they invented a rally cry: “Ours is not to stomp and shout, ours is just to crank it out.”
After she became an editor, Hayes was a great boss who “tolerated” the guys and served as a great guide and source of inspiration to several women who worked as reporters over the years, Stone said.
He credited Hayes for being genuine in a town full of posers.
“Mary wasn’t a wannabe. She was,” Stone said.
Her profiles of interesting characters in Aspen were superb. She was an award-winning photographer. She created popular cookbooks and notecards. And, of course, her “Around Aspen” column kept readers in tune with all the parties and social events.
Hayes pursued a career while raising a family and being married to her lifelong dancing partner, Jim Hayes. She didn’t make a big deal of her accomplishments. She just plugged along, Stone said.
“She was an artist in a brown paper wrapper,” he said.
But more importantly, “She was that spirit of Aspen,” he added.
Jess Bates, another of Mary’s daughters, said after Stone’s speech that Mary didn’t want any type of gathering, “but there were so many people that needed it.”
Jess Bates came up with the idea of holding a low-key event at the Aspen Historical Society. The idea was embraced by her siblings. The turnout showed it was a hit with the community.
“It’s amazing to be in such a large crowd and know everybody,” Jess Bates said.
All of Mary’s children attended: Pauli Hayes of Scottsville, Virginia; Elli Ford of Center Sandwich, New Hampshire; Lauri Hayes of Glenwood Springs; Clayton Hayes of Honolulu; and Jess Bates of Glenwood Springs and Aspen.
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