Alfred H. Hayes ’25 Teaching Chair in Science.

Bequest from Alfred H. Hayes '25 Creates Teaching Chair in Science

David J. Hayes '61 Helps Shape His Father's Gift

Exeter meant “home” to Alfred H. Hayes long before he entered the Academy as a lower. His mother's family helped settle the area in 1760, moving to Exeter in 1884. His mother and uncle were raised at 26 Elliot Street, where Kirtland House stands today. Uncle Henry Benson Tilton graduated from the Academy in 1892, and in later years the house was filled with Academy boys boarding with his grandmother.

Alfred graduated from Exeter, class of 1925; he went on to MIT, earning a B.S. in chemical engineering, followed by a master's degree. When his job search began in 1930, the Depression was on; he received one offer from Standard Oil of Indiana. Alfred stayed with the company 38 years. His family ties to Exeter remained strong; summer vacation meant the annual trek home to Elliot Street. When Alfred’s son, David, was old enough, he, too, came to the Academy. The Hayes family knew the value of a good education. When Alfred passed away in 1991, he left a bequest to Exeter totaling $1.1 million, with the use of the gift to be determined. David Hayes ’61 helped to craft the gift that now stands as a memorial to his father: the Alfred H. Hayes ’25 Teaching Chair in Science.

“I felt strongly that the gift be a living memorial to him,” says David, “because he was such a modest man. He rarely talked of his achievements. I even found community awards and professional commendations with his papers when he died. He must have told my mother, but I never knew a thing about them!” David wanted a fund that would exist in perpetuity and somehow capture his father’s concerns and character. “My father’s great interests were science and mathematics. He was also a very caring man, a man of highest integrity, with a great affection for people. In order to truly reflect the kind of person he was, I felt strongly that the recipient of the Hayes chair should have—in addition to distinction in science—high integrity, a real interest in the students, and a true concern for their success.”

David remembers Exeter as “the single best thing my parents ever did for me.” He remembers his father’s loyalty to the school as well. “He told me it was the hardest experience—academically—of his entire life, and he went on to MIT and Harvard. I know Exeter taught me how to study, and I think he was equally grateful for such a strong education.” Alfred was always a loyal supporter of the Annual Giving Fund—for his class, and in memory of his uncle. “The family connection meant a great deal to him,” says David. “Exeter held many associations of home.”

Last September, Principal O’Donnell named Dr. Kathleen Curwen, instructor in chemistry, as the first recipient of the Alfred H. Hayes ’25 Teaching Chair in Science. David had an opportunity to meet Kathleen in December and is enthusiastic about Exeter’s choice. “Kathleen is very well-qualified from a scientific standpoint,” he says, “but what really clinched it for me was when she asked about Dad. I told her about him, and then she said, ‘You know, those are wonderful memories; my dad was like that.’ I knew in an instant that she understood.”