BOB HAYES TRIBUTE
West Newbury, MA (September 18, 2001) . . . I knew Bob Hayes. I didn't know him that well, although I worked on occasional projects with him over the past five years. But now, I realize I knew him better than I thought.
Bob, who was Director - Sales & Marketing, Data Products for Netstal Machinery, Inc., was killed in the crash of American Airlines Flight 11 on September 11. He was traveling from Boston to LA on a routine business trip. He was 37.
Like everyone else in this country and around the world, I watched with horror as terrorists crashed two commercial jets into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and a fourth into a field in Pennsylvania. That night I prayed that I didn't know any family members, friends or acquaintances that were killed in this tragedy. Then I got the call on Wednesday morning.
A friend from Netstal told me of Bob's death. The grief and shock at Netstal was unbearable, and they asked for my help in making an announcement. I agreed to help any way I could. Over the next day, after getting information from Netstal, I wrote a press release, got a photo of Bob, and distributed it to the press. After an almost 20 year career in marketing and public relations, I can honestly say nothing has ever come close to being so difficult.
Bob and I had a lot in common. We both grew up in suburban Boston, he in Burlington, I five miles away in Wakefield. We both married, had children and moved to the Newburyport, Mass. area, he in Amesbury, I five miles away in West Newbury. We both worked out of home offices. We both loved spending time with our families.
Bob most recently visited me at my office on a picture-perfect day in July. We worked together on a promotion for Netstal's Discjet molding machines. We talked business, but we spent more time talking about our families and our lives. He told me how happy he was with his life, how he had a great family - his wife Deb, son Robbie and newly-born Ryan. We shared stories and joked about how we were both taking our summer vacations the following week, and neither of us could wait.
How quickly life can change. On Saturday night, September 15, my wife and I attended Bob's memorial service. It was held outdoors on a perfect early fall night at a public park along the Merrimack River in Amesbury, just a few blocks from Bob's house. The minister allowed anyone who wanted to speak to come up to the podium to give their recollections of Bob. I decided not to speak, but dozens of others did. And the stories I heard made me realize, I knew Bob better than I thought.
His childhood friends spoke of growing up with Bob in Burlington, and the fun they had. A contingent of surfers spoke of Bob's passion for the sport, his gentlemanly demeanor, and how he would "catch waves" at any opportunity with them at Hampton Beach, NH. Co-workers spoke of Bob's endless enthusiasm, positive outlook, work ethic and above all, honesty. Neighbors and relatives spoke of Bob's devotion to his family, and how he made a point of spending as much time as possible with his wife and kids. Bob's love of boating was frequently mentioned.
And as I listened, I thought to myself, I knew all that. If you had asked me back in July to give my impressions of Bob Hayes, I would have told you he was a great guy, devoted family man, happy-go-lucky, honest, classy. I would have been right on the button. I knew Bob Hayes better than I thought.
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Netstal has set up a fund to help Bob's family. Please consider sending a donation to the fund as follows:
Debora L. Hayes, in trust for Robert J. Hayes, beneficiary
Netstal Memorial Trust
11 Park Street
Leominster, MA 01453
Donations may be sent either in care of the bank or to Netstal Machinery, Inc. at 75 Lake George Street, Devens, MA 01432.