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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Memorial for Yvonne "Von" Hayes

by Raymond Hayes

Yvonne M Adams Hayes
06/10/1949 - 11/25/2008 just before mid night.

I first met Yvonne “Von” shortly after arriving in Seattle WA, Aug 1975 I had just over seven years served in the US Coast Guard. I was transferred from Michigan to the newest CG Icebreaker Polar Star. Once I arrived my first agenda was to find a church, (I was a new Christian then, having given my heart to the Lord on Feb 8 1972) and I knew I had to be in a good Christ centered fellowship. After a couple of visits to some local churches I was directed by the Youth Pastor of a Christ Reformed Church without hesitation he said he knew the place God wanted me “Just up the road from here is Westminster Assembly of God”. How about that?

Something I didn’t expect, a Pastor, who could have welcomed me, guiding me to another church. I knew when I arrived for the Weds night service I was right where I should be. The senior members of the church with open arms welcomed me. Then I met Paul who directed me to the Young adult Class. He introduced me to the class; Von was one of those there. Of course I didn’t notice her at first because I was new and I didn’t have any interest in meeting any girls yet. I was 25 and working on a military career.

I really can’t say how long it was before I noticed her, but I do remember it was during a Sunday service, there she was the tallest girl in the choir, and as a matter of fact at 6’1” she was the second tallest person. I was not interested in her at the time but I knew I did want to try singing in the choir. I was a fairly good Bass, having gotten interested with barbershop while in MI. I think it was during one of the rehearsals the director decided to place me to the right of her and wow! Could that girl sing she had a voice I fell in love with, not her but the voice, she made it so easy to sing my parts, she was an Alto. Within a couple of months I got to know each member, she once invited me to a dinner but it was on a day I could not go (CG Duties).

Finally one Sunday night after the evening service all the young adults were going to the pizza place across the street, as I entered everyone was seated on these long benched tables and I happened to sit across from Vonnie. During the meal we struck up a conversation. She knew I was in the service but that was about all. When I told her I was stationed on the Polar Star her eyes lit up, she asked me if that was the wagbee 10 or 11 all I could say was Huh? She then told me she worked for the company installing the Heating and Ventilation for the new Icebreakers. She only knew these ships by the hull numbers WAGB10 the Polar Star and 11 the Polar Sea.

As we talked I began to feel more comfortable around her because she was familiar with the ships. I began to tell her how I planned to make a career of the Coast Guard. She then said something I didn’t expect on this first real meeting, “ I will never marry a service man”. Well I wasn’t looking at getting married at anytime. It didn’t take long before we started to see more of each other, not romantically but out of a common interest in music, we both enjoyed the harmony of Quartets and the choir groups such as the Maranatha singers. Pretty soon we started to go to the different concerts as they came into Seattle.

As time went by it was time for the Commissioning Ceremony and as a crew member we could invite up to 4 people so I asked Von and her roommate if they would like to be my guest. After the ceremony we enjoyed our time together. I had the “joy” of being one of the first watch duties for the night so she and her roommate left and I went aboard the ship. That was the first time I began thinking of her as more than a friend, all the other guys wanted to know who the tall glass of water was? Where did we meet? And could I introduce her to them?

We still got together as often as I could during the first few months after commissioning but we had lots to do, to get ready for our first shakedown cruise. As an Electricians Mate Second Class I had a lot of work to do, our work hours didn’t give us much time off and now we worked weekends to boot. We set sail under the Coast Guard flag the fist time in Feb 1976 and after all the time away I found myself missing not only the young adults at church but also the choir and Vonnie. It was now the summer of 76 and for morale purposes we had what was known as a dependants cruise, we were allowed to invite our spouses or girlfriends for a dinner cruise in the Puget Sound. I couldn’t believe it when I asked Vonnie to go and she jumped for joy to be asked. I guess you can say that was our first date. Soon we began seeing more of each other as more than just friends, she was still leery of our differences in height I was only 5’11”. I don’t think she ever got over that but I told her I didn’t care.

During all this I managed to buy a mobile home that allowed me a little freedom away from the ship when I was off duty. My roommate was another crew member, who shared my faith and I introduced to the church family. The reason I bought this was because when I was stationed in MI it was what was known as an S&Q station I worked out of a US NAVY Reserve center, and I happened to have a lot of personal stuff. Things I couldn’t use aboard a ship, such as bedroom and kitchen furniture and well you know Things? Von and some of our friends would come out to visit. While we were underway and gone Von would come out and check on the place and keep it clean and take care of my cat.

Pretty soon it became evident to me that Von was the girl I’d like to spend my life with but then remembering her words to me that night over pizza I wasn’t so sure. I didn’t make my feelings for her known for quite sometime, yet the older folks at church wanted to know when I was going to ask.

Unknown to me the women of the church saw something there that neither of us saw. She once told me of the time she was engaged to a Marine and she cancelled the wedding just days prior to getting married. I figured it was the reason she said she’d never marry a serviceman. Later I was to learn the ladies of the church prayed for her to cancel that because he was not the man God wanted for her.

Since I was on an Icebreaker that finally got underway for ice trials I was gone for a while we departed in mid spring to the ice fields in the arctic and it was fantastic to see what this ship would do but man did I miss being with her I thanked God for Mail call at least once a week. When we returned to Seattle, because of my job as an EM my special sea detail was in the IC room taking care of the Gyro Compass. (Most engineers were always below decks when the ship enters or leaves a port).

I felt very special because when I finally secured the Compass I came up to the main deck to start hooking up the electrical shore tie. There on the docks waiting for us were all the wives and girlfriends. I then heard a familiar voice come out of the crowd yep it was Vonnie, I didn’t expect that, I didn’t know when I would be able to get off the ship because as an engineer and EM we are always the last to get off, so I just wrote and told her when we were to get back and I’d call her as soon as we did. She was new to this kind of stuff as was I, because my last 2 ships I didn’t have someone special, so I usually took the first day duty so the married guys could get off. When I finally got off About 2 hours after everyone else she was waiting for me with, for the first time, a great big hug and kiss, I was in heaven.

We continued to date for the next couple of months then the ship had to prepare for its first job in the Antarctic. Again lots of work and yes weekends were pretty well covered the engineering dept is always the busiest. When we finally got underway Vonnie was there to see us off I couldn’t take it, she was crying big crocodile tears for a “service man”. And as an engineer that meant I had to go below decks as we departed so I couldn’t even wave at her. We finally returned to Seattle after 4 months of ice-breaking and breaking down (our propellers were seizing up in the ice) we had to return.

Again after getting all the engineering things done, there she was, this time acting the old pro with the wives and girlfriends of the other engineers. It seemed as if she knew what to expect because during that cruise I was promoted to first class (E6) and I had the first night duty now as the assistant engineering duty officer. We shared a little time together on the ship and even had dinner (mess) we said our good nights and she said she would pick me up in the morning when I got off. Did I mention that between trips that summer I taught her how to drive a stick shift and she got the hang of it pretty good. So she had my car when we were gone.

Anyway the ship spent the next year and a half in the shipyards getting the props fixed that gave us more time together. She was beginning to come around to accepting a military man in her life even though it was tough for her to admit. Our time in the choir even made us closer. I was really happy God directed me to this church.

In the fall of 1978 I was transferred to the newly formed Icebreaker Support Facility where now I got off every night (no duty) I finally got up the nerve to ask her father for his blessing because I was asking Vonnie for her hand in Marriage, his answer “Well its about time” after another month she finally said yes and we went shopping for the rings.

We were officially engaged on Valentines day 1979 I put the ring on her finger in style, we had lunch in a little café called the “Joker” in downtown Seattle just a few blocks from where she worked She had a new job then she was an engineering secretary for a large Firm.
We didn’t tell anyone yet but the next Sunday at Choir the director’s wife noticed the ring and she told her husband. With that He stopped the practice and announced to the entire choir and us “Ladies and gentlemen our prayers have now been answered it seems as they are now engaged” everyone knew who he was talking about except us we didn’t tell anyone we wanted to tell the Pastor first so he could make the announcement.

Well that’s when we found out God had his plan all along I mentioned earlier how the women of the church prayed Von's first engagement would end, well since the first time we met they also prayed that we would be together forever. Doesn’t God do amazing things? I mean I had more help than I realized.
We finally tied the knot on June 9th 1979. She always joked that she can say she was in her 20s when she got married the very next day she turned 30. We spent our honeymoon in Hawaii. During the next 3 years she became more familiar with my job and I must confess, that with her knowledge of writing contracts she was a real help, throughout the book of Proverbs the wife is mentioned Proverbs 12:4 tells us “A wife of noble character is her husbands crown”

My job at the ISF was to write the electrical specs for shipyard work to be completed. I would take the work home and she would proofread it and correct as needed. There were many times she would take the papers to her work and ask the different engineers how best to state certain items. Because of this help I found myself getting better at it and getting the other people asking if she would assist with some of their writing.

With all the time she spent helping me it seemed as if when I submitted the work order to the officers in charge I’d get a slap on the back and I’d tell them most of this was my wife’s work. I soon found myself being promoted to Chief (E7) and sent off to advanced schools.

My last year at ISF I spent nearly 5 months away from home yet we managed to keep in touch over the long distances. We really found out about absence making the heart grow fonder. Then in the summer of 1980 I was transferred to another ship in Seattle the CGC Melon as the senior Electrician. We spent a lot of time underway but this we could handle because the ship was gone 6 weeks at a time. And in port for 3 this type of ship was rotated on Alaskan Fisheries patrols out 6 in 3 out 4 in 8 etc.

As always Von was the Pro she new when and what time we were to be in and this time because I was “The Chief” I got off when we tied up I had a crew to do the heavy work. In the fall of 82 we were transferred to St Louis, MO where eventually I was in charge of two teams of engineers that maintained 18 River tenders covering 22 states. This is where the church family really became important. We found a local Assembly of God church, not as big as our home church a small congregation of about 80 members but the pastor and his family was great he was a tenor and former Quartet singer. We felt as if we never left.

It was here that our son Matthew came into the world but here again because of my job I was away a lot Our teams averaged 250 days on the road (scheduled) and throw in a few times one of the boats would break down you can see this put Von in a lot more stress thank God for the church family.

She took it very well and we did spend a lot of time together when I was home. We finally retired in July of 1988 but because I had so much leave time saved up I took what is commonly known as Terminal vacation and we headed back to Seattle in May, we stopped to visit a few of my friends and family along the way, my dad in Ohio, my twin brother in New Orleans my mom and sisters in CA and spent a week at Disneyland, Matthew had so much fun he was just 4 then.

We finally made it to Seattle we stayed with her Mom and Dad for most of the summer during which I spent looking for a job and Von looking for a home. She was blessed for her common sense. We finally moved into our permanent home in late Sept and Matthew started school.

It was at this time in late 1990 a Tumor was found on her brain and early in Jan 1991she had surgery to remove it. I guess you can say as hindsight this was the beginning of her slide. We had grown so much as a family and our love for each other continued to grow stronger. For the first ten years there was no change except her seizures went away it seemed for good. Now as I look back I can say the slow changes started to appear back in 2003 shortly before I lost my job.

She was still active in all things but getting slower. There were times she would forget things but when reminded she would remember in detail. Due to our financial situation we lost the home she so diligently sought and kept immaculate.

When we moved to this apt that’s when I saw things differently she was beginning to fail and I started to blame God for not living up to his promises, however she was always the one who pulled us closer when she watched the Gaither homecoming shows on TV I would see her deep in praise thanking God for all that we’ve been through. In the final weeks before she was first taken to the Hospital I started a deeper search for Gods purpose in all this.

I guess the words of the song “We’ll talk it over” by Ira Stanphill the reason for Von going into his presence will have to wait. Until then I will trust that God has a purpose for me and will reveal it in his time. Know this my love for Von will go on and I know I will miss her dearly her faith was strong and it kept me in line.

“We’ll Talk it Over”

Verse 1

Tho' shadows deepen, and my heart bleeds,
I will not question the way He leads;
This side of Heaven we know in part,
I will not question a broken heart.

We'll talk it over in the bye and bye.
We'll talk it over, my Lord and I.
I'll ask the reasons - He'll tell me why,
When we talk it over in the bye and bye.

Verse 2

I'll trust His leading, He'll never fail,
Thru darkest tunnels or misty vales.
Obey his bidding and faithful be,
Tho' only one step ahead I see.


Verse 3

I'll hide my heartache behind a smile
And wait for reasons 'til after while.
And tho' He try me, I know I'll find
That all my burdens are silver lined.


This picture is Von one week before going to the hospital for the last time.