Born: September 6, 1940 – Died: February 3, 2017
John Michael Hayes passed away at his home in Berkeley, California, on February 3, 2017, of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Hayes was a geochemist, receiving a B.S. from Iowa State University in 1962 and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1966. He was a professor at Indiana University for 26 years, then in 1996 became director of the National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry facility at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and also served as a professor at Harvard University. He has lived in Berkeley since 2007.
Born in Seattle, Washington, John Hayes grew up in Montana and Iowa, attending 13 schools before graduating from high school in Perry, Iowa, as his family moved regularly for his father’s job with the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. In 1962, he married Janice Maria (Boeke) Hayes of Hubbard, Iowa, whom he met at Iowa State University. They celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary before her death in 2013. He is survived by his children James T. Hayes of Honolulu, Hawaii, Anne Hayes Hartman of Oakland, California, and Rachel M. Hayes of Nashville, Tennessee, and by his grandchildren Diego Enriquez, Johanna Hartman, Sarah Hartman, and Rylan Hayes. His children and grandchildren were all with him on the day he died.
As a scientist, Hayes’ work on organic isotopes and reconstruction of ancient conditions provided evidence of the development of the carbon cycle over geologic time, the timing of evolutionary events such as the development of photosynthesis, and the development of the global environment. He performed field work around the globe, including on the R/V Atlantis and in the submersible Alvin, and in Western Australia, South Africa, and the Canadian Arctic. He was a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, and the European Association of Organic Geochemists. He authored two textbooks, four book chapters, and nearly 200 papers, and mentored students and assisted colleagues in countless ways. Hayes was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society in 2016. Hayes served as a Captain in the United States Army from 1967-1968, detailed to the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.
John and Janice Hayes were enthusiastic travelers throughout their lives, always willing to detour for, or plan a trip around, good restaurants and fine wine. He was an experienced photographer, a flutist and lover of classical music, and a baker who made six loaves of bread nearly every weekend his children were growing up. In Berkeley, he was a member of the Epworth United Methodist Church and the Berkeley Camera Club. He had an unpretentious approach to life in and out of the laboratory; “look for the good in people” was his bedrock philosophy. As he rejoins the carbon cycle, he would like to remind us all to take action to combat global climate change.