Cover photo for Jerris Hayes (Courtesy)'s Obituary
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Jerris Hayes (Courtesy)

October 20, 1950 — July 9, 2023


Jerris Hayes (Courtesy)


He was born in Jefferson, Georgia on October 20, 1950 to Cleveland and Lucille Hayes. His wife Julie, daughter Camille, and mother-in-law Elaine Thacker survive him.

He was a 1968 graduate of Jefferson High School where he participated in baseball and cross-country. He was a Triple Dawg graduate of the University of Georgia where he played baseball and threw the javelin for the track team. “Coach Hayes” taught Social Studies and started the tennis program at Oconee County High School. He was “Teacher of the Year” at Cedar Shoals High School where he coached football and Girl’s Tennis.

He was an assistant principal at Washington-Wilkes High School, principal of Hart County High School where he founded the state Academic Team Competition, and opened three new Barrow County schools: Russell Middle School, Westside Middle School, and Apalachee High School. He was everyone’s favorite princi”pal” and coach as his former students are quick to declare.

After retiring, he was a consultant with the Georgia State Department of Education Facilities Division. He closed his work life as the Facilities Department Chair at Athens Academy. He was a SACS School Accreditation Commission Board member. The UGA KDE Education Society recognized him for Distinguished Service.

Jerris was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Athens, where he served as a Deacon, Elder, Clerk of Session, Weekday School Board member, and Hooper Bible Class Sunday School teacher. He enjoyed studying the Bible and Bible scholars, plants, yard work, travel, coaching his daughter’s recreation basketball team, listening to music, and following Georgia athletics and the UGA Redcoat Band.

Jerris was a great man of integrity and selflessness who had a positive impact on many throughout his career. Many times former students and teachers would tell him how he had encouraged and shaped them, even one who commented that he had “saved their life” by the advice and direction he had imparted. His greatest accomplishment was as a dedicated family man, fully supporting his parents in their later years, his wife of 42 years, his daughter, and many others whom he considered family.

A memorial service will be held Thursday, July 13, at 2:00 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church of Athens. A reception will follow the service at the church.

Donations can be made to First Presbyterian Weekday School, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Athens Academy, or the UGA Redcoat Band.

Bernstein Funeral Home is in charge of funeral arrangements.

Courtesy of Coile and Hall Funeral Directors of Hartwell.

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