Elaine Ishikawa Hayes, 97, civil rights advocate, pioneer in early childhood packages

Our Lives Lost series remembers loved ones who died in the pandemic. You can share an obituary on someone special to you by filling out the form at the end of this story.

Elaine Hayes was so energetic that people who knew her called her the Energizer Bunny. “She’d be whizzing around places even at her age,” said Jo Moore, a friend.

Hayes and a group of church friends took a cruise when she was 80 and single. Moore said the friends would be in touch. “But when they came in to check on her, she was never there,” recalled Moore. “She was the first to get off the ship in the morning … and she would come back and tell them about all the adventures she had had. She just overtook everyone. “

Moore and Hayes met in 2000 after Hayes’ husband died. Hayes attended Moore’s Church, the Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Church. They were also members of the same book club and became good friends. “Book clubs, you know,” chuckled Moore. “You talk about everything, not just the book.”

They became neighbors when Hayes moved into the same age community as Moore and her husband lived. Over the years, Moore met the life of her friend – a Japanese-American woman who was interned at Tule Lake during World War II, married an African American, and raised her mixed family in Seattle.

In her professional life, Hayes has been instrumental in integrated preschools in Seattle and oversaw five day care centers, Moore said. “She and her husband have both been very active on civil rights issues and economic poverty issues. They were a remarkable family. “

Moore said she admired her friend’s ability to remain positive despite the adversity she had faced in her entire life. When Hayes was born in California, the family lost their rice farm after the state passed law banning Asians from owning property. Her father became an insurance agent but was hospitalized for tuberculosis. Hayes, the eldest, had to look after her younger sisters while her mother worked. Then the war happened and the family was imprisoned along with thousands of Japanese Americans.

“There were all of these things where she should have been, or be angry, or angry,” said Moore. “I’ve never seen this side of her; I’ve always seen them well, this is a problem that needs to be resolved and we will find out how to do it. “

Producer Alec Cowan composed music for this story.

If you lost someone in Washington to Covid, we invite you to tell us about it – their story, their passions and your memories of them.


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