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Obituary for Jeffrey ‘Jeff’ Hugh Hayes

July 22, 1960 – April 11, 2023

Jeffrey “Jeff” Hugh Hayes, age 62, passed away peacefully on April 11, 2023, laughing and joking until the end. He was a storyteller, mentor, friend, comedian, pragmatist, and rubber duck, and he will be deeply missed by all.

Jeffrey “Jeff” Hugh Hayes
Jeffrey “Jeff” Hugh Hayes

His spirit will be carried on by his four children, eight grandchildren, wife, mother, siblings, and large extended family and friends. His easygoing patience, positive outlook, and infectious smile had a way of making hard things simple and the impossible seem easy – even terminal brain cancer.

Jeff was born on July 22, 1960, in Madison, Wis., to John and Barbara (Née: Murphy) Hayes. His childhood in Racine, Wis. was very happy and filled with fun and a special kind of harmless troublemaking with his brothers and friends. By his teen years, his family moved next door to his dear friend and mother to his children, Dianne (Née: Knudtson) Hayes-Papelbon.

In Jeff’s early career, he was employed by A1 Auto Body, then was a plant manager for many years at Putzmeister, and last worked with the Kriete Group. Jeff was never afraid of getting his hands dirty, whether in work or in life, and he taught us many lessons and the value of hard work.

On June 18, 2022, Jeff was united in marriage to Jill Simons after many happy years together. He was an avid golfer and enjoyed time with his buddies at Johnson Park, watching old movies and going to every Old 97’s concert he could. Above all, his happiest moments were spent with his family, telling his stories, sharing memories, and making jokes.

He will be missed and remembered by the many lives he touched and those who loved him. We are all better for having known him. His legacy will carry on forever, reminding us all to worry a little less.

Jeff is survived by his wife, Jill; children, Sean (Ana) Hayes, Kelly (Jon) Blickle, Katy (Jimmy) Bontempo, Rachel Hayes, Eleyna Graczkowski, and Wyatt Graczkowski; grandchildren, Pearl and Irene Hayes, Colin, Miles and Emily Blickle, Roland, John and Junior Bontempo; mother, Barbara Hayes; brothers, Tim (Marily) Hayes, and Chris Hayes; sister, Mary (Dave) Richter; mother of his children, Dianne (Bruce) Hayes-Papelbon; and many in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends, and family too numerous to list, but not forgotten. He was preceded in death by his father, John Hayes.


A Mass of Christian Burial celebrating Jeff’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 20, 2023, at St. Rita Catholic Church, 4339 Douglas Ave., Racine, WI. Relatives and friends are welcome to meet with the family for visitation from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home, and on Thursday, from 10 a.m. until the time of Mass at the church. Donations can be made to the UW-Health Carbone Cancer Center and Hospice Alliance. Private interment will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum.

A very special thank you to the many friends and family who have provided their support over the last year. Thanks to the doctors and staff at the UW-Health Carbone Cancer Center, and his doctors: Dr. Steven Howard, Dr. Adam Ahmed, Dr. Ankush Bhatia, and Dr. James Gierahn. Thanks to the Hospice Alliance for their loving and compassionate care.

Obituary and photo courtesy of Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home.

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