Sam Hayes (Samuel Hezekiah Hayes), 1920 – 2007
Sam Hayes was born in Blackman, Florida in 1920. He was the eighth child of eleven in his family. His early school days were spent in Rocky Bayou, Garnier’s and Carver schools. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941 and fought in North Africa and Europe in World War II. He later served a tour in Southeast Asia. He was also wounded in combat. While in the Army he was trained as a cook. This training and military career led him to become the chef of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s.
When he retired he had thirty-one years of active duty service to our Nation. He came back home to Okaloosa County Florida in 1973. He retired as a Master Sergeant. With him was his wife, Florence. But, he was far from being retired. He went back to school by enrolling in the culinary arts program at Okaloosa-Walton Junior College. He graduated and later returned to the college as a culinary arts teacher.
For twenty-five years he was a Crestview City Councilman. He was an active member of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. While serving his city and county, he served as President of the City Council and as Vice President, too. He was a member of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators.
Once when he was interviewed by the news he said, “I never see discrimination; I just see people.” One of his colleagues has this to say of Sam, “I found out that I could depend on Sam to do what was right because I knew he was going to look out for the people of Crestview.”
Tuesday, May 2, 2007, was proclaimed as Sam Hayes Day in Crestview, Florida. Congressman Jeff Miller read into the State Congressional Record a review of Sam’s accomplishments.
Mr. Sam never did retire. He resigned from his duties with the City Council because the doctor said he needed to because of his health. He died in December at age 87. In his eulogy, Sam’s pastor, Rev. Dwight Baggett said, “ ‘use what God has given you’ just as Sam Hayes did in his life.” The community set up the Sam and Florence Hayes Scholarship Endowment, The Okaloosa Walton Foundation, in Niceville, FL. to help students get their college education.