Lives Remembered

Tom Hayes: A gentleman, scholar and widely travelled man

TOM Hayes travelled the world with his work in telecommunications before settling in Co Antrim, where retirement offered the opportunity to indulge more leisurely passions in archaeology and ancient Greek.

Tom was born in Dublin to James and Catherine Hayes in 1928 and was the eldest of five children.

He was educated at St Augustine’s College, Dungarvin, Co Waterford where his scholarly flair saw him achieve the highest Leaving Certificate score in the state in Ancient Greek.

He went on to University College Dublin where he earned a degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. It was through the Amateur Musical Society at UCD that he met Angela McGrath, from Co Wicklow but with a Tyrone background.

They would go on to enjoy 68 happy years of marriage.

They emigrated as a young couple in 1953 to Toronto, Canada, where Tom was employed in the telecommunications and early guided missiles industry. In 1960 he was given responsibility for opening a factory in Belgium for Cannon Electrical, later part of ITT.

Two years later he moved to Harlow, Essex to join ITT and his professional life would involve numerous other trips worldwide. In 1986 Tom made his final move to STC (later Nortel) in Monkstown, near Belfast, where he worked in senior management.

Calm, reliable and with a great ability to defuse difficult situations, he was the epitome of a gentleman and won the respect of all he worked with and made many friends.

After retirement he undertook part-time lecturing at Ulster University’s School of Engineering.

Always keen to share his expertise, he also became chairman of the governors for East Antrim Institute for Further Education, for which he was awarded the OBE in 2002.

He and Angela continued to enjoy trips abroad together, visiting every country in Europe as well as travelling from the eastern coast of Asia right to the west coast of North America. 

An avid reader and a scholar at heart, Tom also used retirement to study the gospels in ancient Greek and Hebrew and pursued a lifelong love of archaeology, serving as a very welcoming president of the Ulster Archaeological Society for three years.

He was a man of deep faith, love and concern for the spiritual welfare of his Church, serving over 30 years in the Order of the Knights of St Columbanus.

His faith provided strength following the tragic death of both his son Dr Mark Hayes, a senior academic at Cambridge University (2019), and his daughter Miriam Jones, following a car accident in the US in 2008.

Until his eyesight failed in recent years, Tom was a great handyman in the house and garden, everything being planned beforehand to the millimetre.

His ‘workshop’ containing hundreds of tools, carefully labelled and outlined on display boards, is a collector’s delight. It was while fixing a fence in the garden of his Jordanstown home last Friday that he sadly suffered a fall which led to his death.

His family gave thanks that he was able to enjoy long and active life right up to the age of 93.

He is survived and sadly missed by his wife Angela, daughter Anne, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren in England and America, as well as his sisters Maureen and Nuala.

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