Philip Vern Hays, devoted husband and father, loyal Hoosier, and proud retired Air Force officer, passed away on May 16, 2023, at the age of 80.
Vern was born in Clinton, Indiana to educator parents, Alvin Thomas and Virginia Pearl Hays. While at Bedford High School, he met the love of his life, Kay, and they married while he was still attending Indiana University. Wanting to serve his country, Vern joined the Air Force and shortly after graduation, Vern and Kay made their way to Vern’s first posting at James Connally AFB in Texas. Their next stop was Pope AFB in North Carolina where they welcomed first, daughter Tammy, then son, Tim.
Vern served as a C-130 navigator in Vietnam and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight”. Over the next 15 years, Vern took his family to California; Alabama – where he attended Air Command and Staff College, also earning his Master of Arts in Counseling from Troy State University; the Philippines; Virginia; and New Jersey. Vern retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Air Force after 20 years and brought the family back to Virginia.
During his next phase of his life, Vern worked for the Central Intelligence Agency during the week and on the weekends, he and Kay retreated to their cottage in West Virginia, where Vern was constantly improving and adding-on. Their growing family added a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, and five grandchildren who visited West Virginia often, especially for Oktoberfest and Christmas tree hunting.
After another 20 years, Vern retired from all service and he and Kay found their “forever home” in The Villages, Florida. With a little adjustment, Vern threw himself into retired life, playing golf, volunteering, researching his ancestry, traveling, watching games with the IU Club, and spending time with his ever-growing circle of friends. He and Kay joined North Lake Presbyterian Church and Vern became an ardent supporter of the Backpack Ministry, helping school children in the local area with supplies for learning.
Vern is survived by his faithful wife of 58 years, Kay Hays and his children, Tammy Beniger (Steve) of Vienna, Virginia; Tim Hays (Didi) of Leesburg, Virginia; his grandchildren Emily, Quinton, and Christopher Hays of Leesburg; and Madelyn and Adam Beniger of Vienna, Virginia.
Our sincere gratitude to the caregivers, nurses, and the staff at Inspiritis of Wildwood.
Vern will be interred in Arlington Cemetery at a later date and a celebration of life will be held in The Villages in September. In lieu of flowers, please honor Vern’s memory with a gift to either the Alzheimer’s Foundation or the North Lake Presbyterian Church Backpack Ministry. Please select “School Supply Ministry” as the fund on the donation page or if writing a check, please write “School Supply Ministry” on the memo line.