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Matthew 5:16

Reflections: In Memory of Rudy Hayes

Written by Karen Brewer, Publisher

It’s hard to say goodbye to another great man -- except that the word ‘goodbye’ comes from ‘God be with ye’, and his family and friends have the comforting assurance that Rudy Hayes, a devoted Christian, is now with God. His earthly body was laid to rest today, but, when he took his last breath here on earth three days ago, his soul entered heaven and the presence of Jesus. There, he was reunited with his family members who went before him, and he will one day be reunited with his loved ones who love him and miss his presence here on earth. In heaven, there will be no more sickness and no more pain and no more death. I’ll share with you what Rudy told me were his favorite verses of scripture, John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Continuing to lift up in prayer all of his precious family, his wife, Nell, and their daughters and son, Teresa, Linda, and David, and all of their families.

Rudy delighted in his family. Their home is filled with photos of their family. I love that their family has always gotten together for dinner every Sunday. Rudy and Nell’s family has grown through the years with many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Their family will carry on the legacy of this great Christian couple.

Rudy is a favorite son of his hometown of Pickens, well remembered for having played for the Pickens Blue Flame and the Clemson Tigers in the 1950’s and then professionally for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He deserves honor for his talents on the football field. But, most importantly, he is honored as a man of faith who lived well for his Lord and lived well for his family and for his friends.

I will always treasure the words he wrote in a Bible of mine back in 2004: “To a very good friend. May God bless you always.” I have always loved visiting with Rudy and Nell through the years, including for their birthdays, including for Rudy's 85th birthday on January 12. I loved hearing his stories, and I will always remember them fondly for their kindness, and I will always treasure their friendship and thank God for their friendship.

My first visit with them in their home was in August of 2001, for an interview for a feature story I wrote about him for The Pickens Sentinel, when I was the Editor there. I entitled the story: “A Coach’s Dream” (what he was called in his senior yearbook as he was honored for his athletic ability), and I wrote about his life in football, but also shared about his Christian faith.

It turned out that Rudy and Nell knew my maternal grandparents. Rudy told me that he had taken youth from his church, Red Hill Baptist, on retreat to my late grandparents’ lake cabin at Jocassee. And my grandfather had also known Rudy’s father.

I also wrote later stories, including in 2002, commemorating the Pickens High School Blue Flame’s 50th anniversary of the 1952 state championship. Then, in 2004, when I created a Christian publication, I republished my story about Rudy’s life in football and, more importantly, his life as a faithful witness sharing his Christian faith, including to prisoners at the local law enforcement center one Sunday afternoon a month for several decades. I entitled that story: “Rudy Hayes’ Love for God is Greater Than Football.” Here is a link to that article:

I will forever remember a man who loved his Lord, his family, and his friends, who loved boating and fishing and growing vegetables and flowers, who loved birdwatching, who loved to share about his football days but especially about his Jesus. I will forever remember a man who was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Today’s service at Red Hill Baptist Church was a wonderful tribute to a great man, a good man, a godly man who himself paid tribute to his Lord and Saviour with the life he lived and the faith he shared. The times I had visited Red Hill before, I had sat with Rudy and Nell, when I visited for special services. One day, we’ll all worship together in the sanctuary that is heaven.

Please join me in remembering his precious family in prayer in the days to come.

February 18, 2020


Rudy and Nell in a photo I took during one of my visits on one of his birthdays.

Nell and Rudy in a photo I took during one of my visits on one of her birthdays.

Below are some photographs that Rudy signed for me.