James Hays

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 18, 2007

ZACHARY, La. — Services for James Thomas “Jimmy” Hays, 78, of Zachary, who died Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007, will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at Zachary United Methodist Church with the Rev. Harold Babin officiating.

Burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery, in Woodville, under the direction of Charlet Funeral Home in Zachary.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home and from 11 a.m until service time Thursday at the church.

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Mr. Hays was born Sept. 14, 1929, in Woodville, the son of Mary Lee and John Louis Hays, who were tax collectors for 52 consecutive years, instilling in him a devout sense of public service.

He served in the U.S. Navy and was a member of the Naval boxing Team. He graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he was also a member of the boxing team and active in campus politics.

After graduation, he was a Louisiana history teacher in West Baton Rouge Parish and often reflected that this was his most rewarding job.

He began his 49 years of public service with Gov. Earl Long, transcribing the official minutes of the Louisiana House of Representatives and serving as the first director of the Louisiana Contractors Licensing Board.

He was elected aldermen of the City of Baker, served as administrative assistant to Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Pierce, administrative assistant to the mayor/president of East Baton Rouge Parish and assistant director of the Louisiana Municipal Association.

He faithfully served for more than 30 years as the executive director of his beloved Louisiana Police Jury Association. To date, he is the longest-serving executive director of any state association of parishes or counties in the United States.

He served nationally as president of the National Council of County Association Executives and worked tirelessly for the National Association of Counties. He served as an advisor to the Economic Development Administration under Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter for the betterment of rural parishes and counties.

During his lifetime, he was an active participant in the civil rights movement, believing firmly that all men were created equal. He worked to make all public spaces open to everyone and fought for the creation of black caucuses in government. He served on numerous local, state and national boards and commissions and was a guest lecturer to many colleges and universities. He was a member of the Methodist Church, a Jaycee, a Rotarian and an avid sportsman. He truly lived every moment of his life to the fullest.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 49 years, Ravelle Tyler Hays, and a son, John Warren Hays.

He is survived by daughter Kathy Hays Stephens of Natchez; son, James Thomas “Tommy” Hays Jr. and his wife, Marsha, of Zachary; daughter Sue Cappo of Prairieville; grandchildren, Jay Stephens and wife, Ashley, Middleton Stephens, Katherine Hope Stephens, Sarah Ray Hays, Gabrielle Nicole Hays and John Thomas Hays and great-granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Stephens.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.charletfuneralhome.com http://www.charletfuneralhome.com