A longtime Muskogee lawyer and former teacher who "worked from the age of 13 until he couldn't work anymore" was remembered this week by his peers as a "man of integrity" and "a pillar of the legal community."
Colleagues described D.D. Hayes, who died Saturday at the age of 72 while battling cancer, as someone who "stood out" from others for his honesty and dependability. Hayes, they said, was a "great lawyer" whose importance within the community rose above any personal desire for a title, although he earned several throughout life.
District Judge Bret Smith lamented the loss of a "great friend" and a "giant in our legal community" who "will be sorely missed." Smith described Hayes as the "sort of guy who was comfortable in his own skin" and whose identity was not based solely on his status as a lawyer.
"D.D. conducted himself with utmost professionalism and integrity — he made lawyers look good," Smith said, recalling cases early in his career when he faced Hayes as an adversary representing opposing parties. "He was a positive influence — always prepared and honest."
"Whatever he told you, you could count on — he was a man of his word and a great lawyer," Tahlequah lawyer Donn Baker said. "The thing that stood out the most was that if he told you something you could count on it, and that's hard to find in our business."
City Attorney Roy Tucker said Hayes will be missed by the legal community and members of the Muskogee County Bar Association.
"As a fixture of Muskogee’s legal community and a passionate advocate of his clients, he was genuine, trustworthy and had a biting wit that could defuse a tense legal situation in single moment," Tucker said. "Through my years at the city, I have had the pleasure to get to know D.D., not only as opposing counsel, but as someone who I respected greatly."
Tucker said Hayes "served with great distinction" for 25 years as MCBA's treasurer. Hayes eventually turned over those duties to Tucker, a gesture the city attorney learned later indicated the level of trust Hayes had placed in him.
"Another lawyer commented to me privately, 'If D.D. Hayes gave you the Bar’s checkbook, you must be the most trusted person in Muskogee,” Tucker said. "I took that as a great compliment."
Visitation will be from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Cornerstone Funeral Home, 1830 N. York St. The family will celebrate his life with a private family service — donations may be made to First Baptist Church renovation fund in lieu of flowers.