Michael J. Hays was born the son of a locksmith and an avid artist on August 15‚ 1943 in Oklahoma City‚ OK. He attended college while working for Western Electric before entering the US Navy in 1962. In 1965‚ Michael’s sister‚ Patricia‚ introduced him to Ramona. After 6 dates‚ 1 year and dozens of letters‚ Michael & Ramona were married on November 5‚ 1966 in Albuquerque‚ NM. They moved to Norfolk‚ VA‚ then transferred to Morocco when Ramona was 4 months pregnant with their first child‚ Lara‚ who was born in March of 1968. In 1972‚ they would welcome their second child‚ Heather‚ in Tennessee. Michael’s two daughters would go on to bless him with 4 adored grandchildren: Aidan‚ 4; Nathan‚ 3; and twins Gavin & Avery‚ just 8 months old at the time of his death.
Michael served in the United States Navy for 21 years as an Electronics Technician before retiring as Chief Petty Officer to pursue a home building business in Albuquerque. Michael enjoyed 20 years building custom homes and remodeling. With his mother’s creative talent‚ Michael became a skilled craftsman in wood-working‚ leather tooling‚ embroidery and quilting. Over his lifetime‚ he created many treasured pieces for his family.
Michael and Ramona began visiting the Brazos in northern New Mexico in 1989‚ bought their own property 2 years later and made it their full-time residence in 1998. In 1998‚ Michael also joined the Brazos Canyon Volunteer Fire Department. Michael’s dedication to the beautiful Brazos was evident in 2001 when he took on the role as Chief of this department. Over the next 7 years‚ he led a small group of volunteers and his community to build a station‚ raise funds‚ acquire trucks‚ training and EMS certification. Michael served as an active EMT/B with La Clinica del Pueblo in Tierra Amarilla‚ where he was on call the day of his passing. Michael stood committed to providing the residents of Brazos Canyon with a well-equipped fire station dedicated to the safety and care of everyone in this rural community.
Michael retired as Fire Chief‚ while maintaining a position in the department‚ in order to spend more time with his grandchildren. Just a few short days later he was killed in the explosion of his firehouse on February 19‚ 2008. Michael always had a SPIRIT TO SERVE and a strong work ethic that has inspired others to volunteer their time and advance the mission‚ which he began in the Brazos. He is dearly missed by a grateful community and loving family. His spirit lives on in the beautiful things he created‚ and the lives and community he touched.