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Obituary: Blake D. Hayes

11 Jul 2016 10:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Blake Dean Hayes passed away peacefully at his home in Cherry Valley, NY on July 7, 2016 among family and friends. He was predeceased by his parents, Gerald (Gerry) Hayes and Harriette Hayes, of Sidney, NY. Blake was born in Sidney, NY on March 28, 1950. He graduated from Sidney High School (1968) and received a B.A. in history from the University of Albany. With his love of history, he studied Preservation Technology at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, Ontario and pursued a career in historical preservation, restoration and museum work. Blake worked for Georgia Agrirama, Tifton, GA and The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI. His many restoration projects included the Harvey Firestone Farm and House, the Buckminster Fuller Dymaxion House, a 1940's diner and gas station, the Wright Brothers' Home and 1960's Motown Recording Studio. He was a co-creator of the Henry Ford Museum American Automobile and Made in America exhibits. After returning to Cherry Valley, he gathered a number of museum professionals into The Cherry Valley Group. With CVG he created interpretive and master plans, exhibits and staff training for historic sites, museums and non-profit organizations throughout the Northeast, Southern and Midwestern United States. Blake was active in preserving and promoting local historic sites and organizations. He served on numerous community boards and preservation organizations in Tifton, GA; Ypsilanti, MI; Greenbay, WI, and especially Cherry Valley, NY. He received the prestigious John T. Schlebecker Award from the Association of Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums, a professional organization in which he contributed many volunteer hours. Blake was known for his humor, hospitality, good cooking, gardening, frugality, curmudgeonly tendencies and memorable ear stands, Cowardly Lion impersonations and Wizard of Oz reenactments. His family, colleagues and friends were especially important to him. He is survived by his loving wife Lorraine Bosma of Cherry Valley, NY; daughter Rebecca Gross (Ryan) of Middleboro, MA; son Ashley Hayes of Chapel Hill, NC; stepsons Loren Sutton of Boston, MA, Brian Sutton of Los Angeles, CA and Will Sutton of Cherry Valley, NY; son in spirit Jared Fruth; granddaughters Ariella Blake Gross, Selah Elizabeth Gross and Elizabeth Ann Hayes; sister Dolores Breunig (Franz) of Sidney, NY; brother Keith Hayes (Carol) of Prince George, VA. Blake also maintained close friendships with his former wife, Martha Camp, of Ecuador and former wife and colleague, Mary Seelhorst, of Ypsilanti, MI. He enjoyed his many nieces and nephews and his favorite cat, Kitty Ga-Ga. Contributions in his memory may be sent to The Cherry Valley Community Facilities Corporation for old school maintenance at PO Box 66, Cherry Valley, NY 13320.


Blake does his famous earstand at the Colonial Williamsburg meeting in 2001.

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