Hayes descendant, past Hayes Presidential board president, supporter remembered for kindness

When Steve Hayes and his brothers were growing up in the Hayes Home in the late 1950s and early 1960s, they enjoyed playing together and exploring the vast house.

As boys, they slept in the third-floor dormitory-style bedrooms that are today used for storage and had sleepovers with their friends.

They played table tennis on the verandah in the warmer months and explored the basement, which remained cool throughout the year during a time when there was no air conditioning in the house.

On Christmas morning, their parents, Webb III and Betty Hayes, would open the pocket doors to the library parlor, unveiling a 12-foot real Christmas tree decorated with tinsel, lights and bulbs and a pile of presents beneath it.

These are some of the special memories Steve and his brothers had of the Hayes Home. They are some of the reasons Steve felt so connected to the house and the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, becoming a longtime board member, board president, supporter and donor.

Steve passed away from cancer on May 21 at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was 67.

“Steve was one of the first people I met when I began working here,” said Christie Weininger, Hayes Presidential executive director. “He was a delight and loved to tell stories about growing up here. 

“We’ve included some of those stories in our tours and programs. Steve’s stories help visitors connect to the house in a personal way and makes it easier to imagine what it would like to be a kid growing up in such a unique house.”

Steve and his brothers, great-great-grandsons of President Rutherford and First Lady Lucy Hayes, were the last generation to live in the home before the family gave it to the state of Ohio to be included in in the Hayes Presidential complex.

He had been a board member since 1993 and served as president from 2003 through early 2016. He was very passionate about preserving Spiegel Grove and sharing the story of Rutherford and Lucy Hayes with the public. In addition to serving on the board, Steve and family have been avid supporters through donations and other support.

Through their friendship with the Bush family, Steve and his wife, Theo, helped to bring First Lady Laura Bush to Hayes Presidential last fall for a short visit of the Hayes Home and part of the museum.

“Steve has always looked out for this place,” Weininger said. “From his service on the board, to connecting us to national figures such as First Lady Bush and Cokie Roberts, we are grateful for his outstanding service.”

Steve was born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, and he and his brothers also spent time living at the Hayes Home. He was the third of four sons of Betty (Frost) and Webb C. Hayes III.

He attended The Landon School, graduated from The Lawrenceville School, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  

Steve had a prolific, 25-year career within executive search at DHR International, where he was seen as a trusted advisor to clients and colleagues, a strategic leader and was an inaugural inductee to DHR's Hall of Fame.

He was known for his quick-witted sense of humor, selfless approach to his friends and family, and was considered a "one of a kind" person. In 1977, Stephen married his wife, Theo (Tuomey), and they had three children: Stephen Austin Jr, Mark Douglas and Theo Elizabeth Hayes.

In addition to his career in search and work with Hayes Presidential, Steve was involved in several charitable and foundation activities, including the James M. Johnson Trust, the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart and Imagination Stage.

Steve was a passionate outdoors-man, sailor, athlete and was always the life of the party. He will be sorely missed. A celebration of life memorial and burial will occur at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums, https://www.rbhayes.org/

Hayes Presidential is America’s first presidential library and the forerunner for the federal presidential library system. It is partially funded by the state of Ohio and affiliated with the Ohio History Connection. The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is located at Spiegel Grove at the corner of Hayes and Buckland avenues.

For information, call 419-332-2081, or visit rbhayes.org. Like HPLM on Facebook at @rbhayespres and follow on Twitter and Instagram at @rbhayespres.