Serving the community since 1922

John Raymond Hays

Oct. 17, 1935 – April 1, 2023

John Hays, kind and gentle father and friend, left to be with his wife Shirley on April 1, 2023, and is now rejoicing with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

He will be dearly missed by his family and friends. John was a faithful servant and shared the saving grace of Christ with everyone he met. We look forward to seeing him again in Heaven when it is our time to be called home.

John was born to Sterling O. Hays (b. Beckville, Texas) and Addie Matilda Blacklock Hays (b. Fairy, Texas) at Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas. In 1945, the family moved west to California, settling first in Bakersfield, then shortly after in Barstow.

John attended high school in Barstow, graduating in 1952 as valedictorian. He was the school tennis champion for three years. In tennis matches, John was never beaten by his older brother (who was also school champion for one year). John was also recognized as Bank of America Mathematics Scholar in five counties.

John was musically gifted and marched in the Tournament of Roses parade with his trombone in 1951, played professionally in local bands, most notably The Swingsters headed by the great trombonist Elmer Miller, and was part of a western music group, where he played guitar in person and on the radio.

John attended California State University, Santa Barbara, then joined the U.S. Air Force. He eventually settled in Bakersfield, where he met the love of his life, Shirley Geneva Burke, and they were married May 13, 1968. In 1970, they moved to Shafter and raised their two children, Dale and Robin.

Shirley predeceased John on March 10, 2021, after 50 plus years of happiness together.

John chose a railroading career lasting over 43 years. He was also a faithful scholar of the Bible and followed his Lord Jesus all his life. In 1980, John and Shirley became members of Valley Bible Church in Shafter, where he served in numerous ministries and was an elder, sang in the choir, and played the guitar in church services well into his 80s.

John leaves behind his brother, Sterling Davis Hays (wife Barbara Hoell Hays); two children: Dale Ashley (wife Anne) and Robin Steele (husband Chris); five grandchildren, Jaclyn Lacey (husband Thomas) Katelyn Steele, Kirstyn Steele, Allisyn Munoz (husband Joseph) and Brooklyn Steele; and great grandchildren, Grayson Sims, Weslynn Steele and Ezra Munoz.

Also surviving are his niece and nephew, Ellen Adrienne Hays and Sterling Howard Hays (wife Maria Jose), great nieces and nephews Lavinia Hays Angelelli, Sterling Dezio Hays Angelelli, and Giuliana Hays Angelelli.

Services will be held on April 21, at Valley Bible Church in Shafter at 11 a.m., followed with a luncheon reception at the church.

John would want you to remember him by trusting in Jesus Christ. "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)


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