Merle J. Hayes, 89, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, passed away in her home on Sunday, April 8, 2018 after a long illness.
Merle was preceded in death by her loving husband of 64 years, Charles Hayes, who passed away in 2014.
Merle was a 1949 graduate of Highsmith-Rainey Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Fayetteville. She worked as a Registered Nurse at Highsmith Hospital, Cape Fear Valley Hospital and finally at the Cumberland County Public Health Department where she retired after 20 years of service.
Merle was a devoted member of First Baptist Church where she and Charles attended for over 60 years. She worked in the infant nursery at the church and was also a member of the M & M Sunday school class. She and Charles rarely missed a Sunday or a Wednesday night service.
Merle is survived by her son, Charles "Alec" Hayes, Jr.; daughters, Daphne Gentilozzi (husband, Harry) and Jennifer Malvitz (husband, John). She also leaves behind her grandchildren, Ashley, Emily (husband, Kenny), Chris and Mac; step-grandchildren, Debbie, Ginger and Chris; and great-grandchildren, Tylor, Bianca, Preston, Matthew, Thaison and Sophia.
Merle was the last surviving child of the late Douglas and Johnnie Johnson of Elizabethtown, where she was born. Surviving her siblings are four beloved sisters-in-law, Almira Johnson, Dorothy Barnes (husband, Harvey) both of Elizabethtown, Peggy Johnson of Clarkton and Charles' sister, Ditty Stevens of Fayetteville. Merle also delighted in her many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends and kept an ardent interest in their well-being.
Merle was a lovely, sincere person and only wanted the best for her family. She always loved little children and would light up around them. She was an excellent nurse and enjoyed her work. Merle always believed in God and followed Christian principles throughout her life. Her sense of humor and sweet demeanor was evident to all who knew her. She will be greatly missed!
A visitation will be on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 from 6 pm to 8 pm at Rogers and Breece Funeral Home. A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church, 201 Anderson St., at 2 pm Thursday, April 12, 2018. A graveside service will follow at Lafayette Memorial Park, 2301 Ramsey Street, Fayetteville.