James H. Hays

13 November, 19599 March, 2023
Obituary of James H. Hays
James H. Hays, 63, of Columbus, passed away unexpectedly on March 9, 2023. Jim was born November 13, 1959 to Willard “Bill” and Mary “Betty” (Hamner) Hays in Columbus. He was the 3rd of 4 children. Jim was raised in Upper Arlington and attended Upper Arlington Schools growing up. He had an idyllic childhood and made so many friends during this time of his life that carry over to this day. They now call themselves the “Gray Bears.” Jim played basketball on the UA Golden Bears team and made many great friendships there as well. In the summers he would lifeguard at Devon Pool. He loved that job and was great at it. He saved a child from drowning one summer. He taught swim lessons to all ages, but was especially patient with children. He was on the Scioto Country Club swim team and received many medals for his speed which was a benefit of his 6’5” frame and swimmer physique. Jim attended Ohio Wesleyan University, where he joined Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and was a member of the swim team. His strong, long lasting bonds with his brothers in the fraternity carried on throughout his life after college and forever. He graduated in 1982. After college, Jim began his career in sales in New Jersey. There he met first wife, Danielle O’Connell. They were married and moved back to Columbus where they had two beautiful daughters, Ally and Chrissy. Jim met Kelli Black through mutual friends in the spring of 2013. They fell in love at a Kentucky Derby party at a horse farm in Dublin, Ohio. In Jim’s words, he “courted” Kelli for the next 12 months and then they were married on Hilton Head Island in 2014. Jim and Kelli shared a special love. Jim had an illustrious career as an IT professional, most recently with Capgemini as a contractor for GE. He worked from home for the last 10 years, and would not have had it any other way. Prior to that, he traveled extensively in a sales capacity and was always the top performer. Jim loved cooking. The kitchen was his domain. He was the cook in boy scouts and was also the Sunday Breakfast chef for his fraternity brothers. In adulthood, Jim was happiest in the kitchen cooking fare for family and friends. He recreated his mom’s Cheese Pie to perfection, mastered Crème Brule, and made the best Vertical Roasted Chicken in Ohio! When Jim would present a new recipe, his favorite saying was “I mean, how bad can it be?” and everyone would laugh hysterically. Jim also loved water, be it hot tubs, pools, Torch Lake or the ocean. He loved all genres of music. His first concert was a Journey concert in Cleveland. He was also an Air Drummer Rock Star. He was a Wedding Dancer. When the 6’5” guy gets on the dance floor, you have to give him room to move. And he had the moves. He loved all animals; bull dogs in particular. At one time, he called his home “The Hays Nursing Home for Old Bull Dogs.” Jim never met a stranger. He also had a booming, baritone, TV anchor voice that produced friendly, heartfelt laughs every day! Jim would never say no to an opportunity to be with friends and family. He would say “Let’s Go!” every time. One thing Jim was not, was a complainer. He was quite the opposite. What a beautiful trait in a person. Jim was a loving husband and devoted father. His laughter and love will be greatly missed. Jim’s family would like to thank his friends and work colleagues, especially the Gray Bears and his Phi Kappa Psi brothers for all of their love and support during this time. Jim is survived by his wife Kelli (Black) Hays; daughters Allyson (James) Hillyard and Chrissy Hays; sister Susan (Dave) Robenalt; brothers Lee (Tana) Hays and Bob (Heather) Hays; brother-in-law AJ (Sherri) Black; and many loving friends and extended family. Jim’s wishes were for cremation and for a private ceremony. As mentioned above, Jim's love of the water continued throughout life and is reflected in his wishes that his ashes be scattered by Torch Lake, Michigan, where he shared many fond memories with family and friends. A celebration of life will be planned with details and dates to be announced. ***************** Remember Me At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn We remember him At the beginning of the year and at its end We remember him As long as we live, he too, shall live For he is a part of us As we remember him When we are weary and in need of strength We remember him When we are lost and sick at heart We remember him When we have joy we crave to share We remember him When we have decisions that are difficult to make We remember him When we have achievements that are based on his We remember him When we fulfill his dreams, and our own, We remember him As long as we live, he, too, shall live For he is a part of us As we remember him.

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