Father William Hayes, S.J. - A Visionary Leader

Fr. William Hayes, S.J.

1928 - 2017

We are deeply indebted to Fr. Hayes for his 32 years of service and leadership at Jesuit High School. As Fr. Robinson states in his book Honoring the Tradition, “It is difficult to measure the magnitude of the contribution of Fr. William Hayes to Jesuit High School.” Fr. Hayes’ enduring commitment, visionary leadership, and personal dedication to Jesuit High School and to the surrounding community make him one of the school’s most iconic individuals.

The life of Fr. Hayes is a true testament to his enduring legacy. In his youth, William Edward Hayes aspired to a vocation which would enable him to “be closer to God” and to help young people. When he entered the Society of Jesus in 1945, he started down a path toward realizing his dream. For more than 72 years, Fr. Hayes touched the lives of young people and the Jesuit communities with whom he lived throughout his journey.

After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree from Gonzaga University in 1951, Fr. Hayes began teaching English, Latin, and religion at Marquette High School in Yakima, Washington, and went on to become a legendary figure in the world of Jesuit secondary education.

Upon being ordained a Jesuit priest and receiving his Master’s in Theology, Fr. Hayes arrived at Jesuit High School in 1960 as the new vice principal. In 1962, he was transferred to Gonzaga Prep where he began a 14-year career (first as principal, then as president-principal). In 1976, his final year at Gonzaga Prep, he successfully led the school’s transition to coeducation. Fr. Hayes next served as vice president at Seattle University and served briefly on Jesuit High School’s Board of Trustees. Following his time at Seattle University, Fr. Hayes completed two years as pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Seattle.

Fr. Hayes became the president of Jesuit High School during the summer of 1984. In 1985 and for the next six years, he also assumed the role of superior of the Jesuits at Jesuit High School.

Father Hayes’ impact on Jesuit was immediate and profound. With such figures as Dick Gedrose, John Nagelman, and Sandy Satterberg, Fr. Hayes led a renaissance at Jesuit. All we have to do is look at the remarkable growth of the school and its programs during his tenure to see the deep contours of Fr. Hayes’ vision.

Under his capable and visionary leadership, Jesuit grew into an esteemed educational institution and also became financially stable for the first time in its history. During a difficult economic climate in the early 1980s that nearly caused the school to close its doors, Fr. Hayes successfully transitioned Jesuit to coeducation in 1993. From 1998 (when he resigned as president) to 2005, Fr. Hayes was Chancellor at Jesuit. Beginning in 2004, he became the Planned Giving Director and school Chaplain.

What is particularly notable is his devotion to securing the school’s mission and future. Fr. Hayes embraced every phase of development and emphasized the importance of building the school’s endowment in order to provide for future generations of students. Endowments and other investments have grown from $657,000 in 1984 to their current value of more than $50 million (2017). Fr. Hayes also founded and cultivated the Legacy Club, a group of 288 individuals who include Jesuit in their estate plans, thereby ensuring the fiscal future and longevity of the school.

Fr. Hayes retired from his position as Jesuit High School’s Planned Giving Director in January, 2012 and remained at Jesuit to assist with the school community’s spiritual needs. In 2014, he went to live at the Jesuit House in Spokane, Washington, and finally to the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California, where he spent his final years.

One of the enduring legacies of Father William Hayes centers on the relationships he fostered with members of the Jesuit High community. His commitment to nurturing lay leadership and to reaching out to all members of the community has left an indelible imprint on the school and on future generations of students. Fr. Hayes helped to build a community that exemplifies the values and principles of Ignatian spirituality. He was a visionary and a leader who showed us every day what it means to be a person for others.


A Man for Others

Memories of Fr. Hayes, S.J.

Please take a moment to share your memories of the man who so significantly impacted the lives of the students, faculty and community at Jesuit High School.