Baker City, Baker County, Oregon
Mary Isabelle Rouse Hays, 91, of Baker City, died Jan. 6, 2003, at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise among family members attending her bedside.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Wednesday at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, First and Church streets. The Rev. Robert C. Irwin will be the celebrant. Vault interment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery.
All who had the privilege to know her will forever miss this devoted wife, mother and Catholic. She was 91 years old this year, but often surprised everyone with the amazing clarity of mind and strength she possessed. Her family members believe the presence of this woman in their lives was nothing less than remarkable.
Mary was born to ranchers Michael and Maude Rouse on May 21, 1911, at the old Baker City Hospital. As a young woman she attended St. Francis Academy where she was a church organist.
She excelled in art and music and was one of the first to play women’s basketball in the state of Oregon. Her zest for life was everywhere. She took great pride in being the first one to learn to drive the family car — one of the first automobiles in the county.
In the summers she was a prolific angler and rarely apologized for surpassing the creels of her children. She loved reading, listening to radio plays and untangling soap operas. In the right company she might share a taste of Irish whiskey and warm conversation.
Those memorable times were punctuated with her enchanting, joyful laugh that seemed to perpetually emanate from her kitchen. Between her many notable achievements in life, it was the honor she brought to the role of matriarch that became her crowning legacy. She served her family with great love, stoic patience and unyielding grace.
On June 17, 1934, Mary married Vernon “Beanie” Hays in Baker City. Vernon began his career as a merchant and owned grocery stores in Ontario and Enterprise before becoming a manager for Safeway for 13 years.
Retail life was fruitful for the young couple yet their richest bounty would be discovered in cattle ranching. In 1944 they moved to Alder Slope, then later homesteaded in the Wallowa Valley where they happily raised their children until Vernon’s death in 1973.
Mary returned to Baker City where she remained devoted to her community, family and faith for a lifetime. In the late 1950s she helped pioneer the Unity parish with her brothers, Mike and John Rouse.
Mary knew how to support the Hays flock as well and her spiritual guidance was routinely encouraged in her children. Not that they always listened, however. From time to time there were some among them who naively believed Grandma Mary did not actually know best.
One legend details a family rivalry that ended with Mary’s surprise arrival on a motorcycle to prevent the family pickup from being used as a fishing pond moss-removal device. Another legend (mixed with untold others) depicts Mary effortlessly holding two young male pugilists at arm’s length as they dangled from the scales of justice like bobcats trapped in a burlap bag.
But perhaps the legends her family recalls most fondly are the ones that led them into Mary’s warm kitchen, where homemade chicken noodle soup healed their hearts and quickly forgave their trespasses.
Ultimately, it was Mary’s laugh and positive attitude that saved all of them. Those who know her best will recall her wry Irish wit, her low tolerance for Dr. Phil, and her tireless concern for anyone in pain or need.
It is of no small note that one of the last things she did on Earth was to inquire on how an ailing family member was coming along. Even in the face of death her sole satisfaction in life seemed to be in the care of others. Her family will miss her deeply.
Mary is survived by her loving sons and daughters, JoAnn and Andrew Radinovich, Mike and Ella Mae Hays, John Hays, Dan and Linda Hays, David and Angie Hays, and Dagget Hays; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Jeanette, Tim, Janie, Johnny, Vernon, Bryce, Andy, Cindy, Paiton, Leonard, Samantha, Jedediah, Joseph, Allen, Sam, John, Johnny, Joan, Mary, Christine, Suzanne, Anthony, Elizabeth, John, Debra, Ty, Trevor, Morgan, Ryan, Jade, Cabrini, Jill, John, Jamie, Bryan, Jessica, Mathew, Phillip, Jonna, Justin, Jolynn and Jaylynn.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Vernon E. Hays; Baby Hays; her parents, Michael and Maude Rouse; and brothers, Mike and John Rouse.
Those wishing to memorialize Mary’s generous spirit may make a donation to the American Diabetes Association through Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, January, 10, 2003
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor