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John Vernon Hays, 80, of Baker City, Oregon, passed away at St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Nampa, Idaho, on November 2, 2022. A visitation will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, from 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm at Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel. Recitation of the Rosary will be held following the visitation at 6:00 pm at Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, November 9, 2022, at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral beginning at 11:00 am. with Father Rob Irwin officiating. The vault interment will follow the mass at Mt. Hope Cemetery, and a reception will be held at the Elks after the services conclude.
John Vernon Hays of Baker City, OR was born on September 25, 1942, in Enterprise, Oregon to Vernon and Mary Hays. He passed away with his family by his side on November 02, 2022, at Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Nampa, Idaho at the age of 80 years. John was the third of five children born to Vernon and Mary.
Big John grew up in Enterprise, Oregon on a registered Hereford Cattle Ranch, which his parents owned. He attended school in the Enterprise School System, graduating from Enterprise High School in 1960 where was active in FFA and enjoyed showing cattle. John also served as an Altar Boy for the Catholic Church in his youth.
John voluntarily enlisted in the US Marine Corp at the age of 17. He served our country just under five years. Some of his duties included being an Embassy Guard in Paris, France. He was also stationed in Okinawa for a time. He received a Good Conduct Award and one of his proudest duties was to provide security for the President of the United States. While John was in the Marines, he wrote many letters back and forth to his mother, father, siblings, and friends. He was always positive and upbeat in his letters and his love and care for the recipient was evident in his writings.
After his service with the Marines, he returned and worked with his father on the Hays Hereford Cattle Ranch in Enterprise, OR. While in Wallowa County he met and fell in love with Callie “Joann” Pifher. The two were married on June 18, 1966. John and Joann raised four children: Johnny Thomas (1967), Christine Ann (1968), Debra Mary (1970), and Ryan Eric (1982).
Later in 1967, John and Joann moved to John Day, Oregon where John managed the Elks Lodge in John Day, OR. In 1968 he became the Manager of the Elks Lodge in Pendleton, Oregon. In 1977, John moved from Pendleton to Ontario, Oregon to own and operate Moore’s Alley Restaurant, where his brother Dan worked side by side with him. He later owned and operated The Locker Room in Fruitland, Idaho. In 1981, John moved to Milwaukie, Oregon, where he managed the Milwaukie Elks Lodge. Later, he purchased and operated Winner’s Bar & Grill in Beaverton, Oregon, and also worked for the Portland Breakers, a football team affiliated with the USFL. He later worked at Beaverton Nissan as the Fleet and Lease Manager.
Following the death of his Uncle Michael Rouse, John moved to the Rouse Brothers Ranch in Unity, Oregon, to help his Uncle John Rouse. Following his Uncle John’s death in 1987, he continued to operate and later acquired the Rouse Brothers Ranch. During this time, John became very active in the Baker County and Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. John was very passionate about ranching and landowner grazing/water rights. In 2001, he became President of the OCA. It was this period of John’s life that was the most satisfying and enjoyable, as he worked with his brothers Mike and Dave, his children and grandchildren. He also befriended many employees, neighbors, and OCA Cattlemen. John didn’t know a stranger. When he loved, he loved hard. You could almost bet he was your number one fan and if you were a friend, you quickly became family.
John’s most enjoyable times would consist of watching his grandchildren play sports and follow them on social media as well as their daily phone calls. He was so proud of all his kids and grandkids, bragging to everyone of their accomplishments.
He was a regular fixture at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and the Pendleton Round Up. In the early years, his children would testify that you couldn’t walk 10 feet before stopping and visiting with yet another friend. John was an avid Trail Blazer fan and had season tickets, where he befriended many Blazer fans, coaches and players. In November of 1970, he happened to be at a Portland Trail Blazers game while his daughter Debra was born. Something Joann would continue to remind him of regularly. He always watched The Cowboy Channel, the Oregon State Beavers, and Portland Trail Blazers on TV. He especially enjoyed being able to watch his granddaughter Mary Shae and her now husband, Jason Thomas compete in rodeos on the Cowboy Channel, videoing their runs and sending them via text message to all of us. John also followed the local cowboys he knew and would root for them so loud through the TV that it’s quite likely he was heard in the arenas they were competing in.
John enjoyed family gatherings and Deb’s cooking. It didn’t matter what she made, it was better than any restaurant he had ever been to, and second helping were always a given. He would say, waving his plate, “just a little bit more, if you don’t mind” with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. He was happiest when surrounded by his children and grandchildren. As one could imagine, the volume in the room would elevate when family gathered. John was okay with this, as he would just turn the TV up louder, take a phone call (there were many), and turn the TV up just a little louder again so he could hear both the phone and the TV over the chatter of family members, who also got louder. It was a vicious cycle, one we will now miss.
As far as his grandchildren go, John was especially looking forward to the wedding of his grandson Morgan to Cody Jo. He was honored to attend Mary Shae’s wedding to Jason. The day Anthony married Chelsea he was beaming with pride. He was also beaming with pride when Suzanne married Dustin. John loved that “Little” John had married Ashley and was so proud of how devoted they are to each other. Additionally, he enjoyed that Trevor always had a pretty girl on his arm.
John loved his family and friends more than anything. There was rarely a moment that he wasn’t on the phone joking with one or the other and bragging about his kids and grandkids. If you ever spoke with John in person or on the phone, you knew how at least one of his children or grandchildren were excelling at something, whether it be occupations, military accomplishments, sports, everyday successes, raising their families or where they were traveling to and what incredible adventures they were on. He also became quite proficient with emoji’s in his later years.
John loved his siblings and had close relationships with his cousins as well. He was often sharing the latest updates about his brother’s and their families. It was not uncommon for John to be on the phone with his cousins and brothers, laughing so hard he was crying. They had a very special relationship.
John will be missed by many and forgotten by none. He was the best Dad, Grandpa, Gramps, Papa, Uncle, Mentor, and Friend. He will continue to root all of us on from Heaven and continue to be proud of all of our accomplishments, no matter how big or small they are. We are all better people because of him.
John is survived by his son Johnny (Joan) Hays of Hermiston, OR, daughters Christine Massingale of Otis, Oregon and Debbie (Ty) Bennett of Baker City, OR and son Ryan (Candice) Hays of Jiggs, NV; Grandchildren Mary (Jason) Thomas of Archer City, TX, Heather (Johnny) Lunny, Holly (Roy) Schuening of Pendleton, OR, Suzanne (Dustin) Jackson of Tualatin, OR, USMC Staff Sgt. Anthony (Chelsea) Massingale of San Diego, CA, Elizabeth Massingale of Grass Valley, OR, John (Ashley) Massigale of Baker City, OR and Trevor and Morgan Bennett of Baker City, OR. John had four great-grandchildren. Brothers Mike (Ella Mae) Hays of Newberg, OR and David (Angie) Hays of Kennewick, WA. He was predeceased by his parents, sister JoAnn Radinovich and brother Dan Hays.
Memorial Contributions can be made to the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association through Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel at 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.
Oregon Cattleman's Association
1320 Capital St. NE #150, Salem OR 97301