PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - John Douglas Hays died early Wednesday morning at the age of 74. He died at his home surrounded by family.
"He was a fighter. He was a warrior," said Dave Hammond, Pastor of Faith Baptist Church of Myra.
Born in 1944, the Pikeville native graduated from Pikeville College, the U.K. College of Law, and Liberty Theological Seminary.
Hays practiced law in Pikeville for 46 years and held a number of political positions.
"He served his country in politics, he served his Lord and he was a man of integrity that we will never forget," said Hammond.
He served as Assistant Pike County Attorney, a Kentucky State Senator, President of the Pike County Public Defender’s Association, a Pike County Judge Pro-Tem, Special Commissioner of the Pike Circuit Court, Special Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, Pike County Judge-Executive Assistant, and Pike County Deputy Judge-Executive.
In addition to those positions, Hays also served in the Air Force.
People who knew him best say his greatest passion in life was to preach and share the word of Jesus Christ.
"Like I said, the latter part of his life wasn't in the courtrooms," said Will T. Scott, who practiced law with Hays. "It was in the streets and the hollers of Pike County in Eastern Kentucky."
Former governor Paul Patton said Hays' family should know he never failed to work hard and always made friendships along the way, even if those he met were on opposite sides of the political spectrum.
"They have a lot of reason to be proud of his service," said Patton. "He was a very respected member of the community and they have every reason to be proud of him."
An accident paralyzed Hays more than a year ago but his determination kept his friends in office moving forward.
"He never despaired," said Scott. "If you went to see him, you left uplifted."
And although he no longer walks the streets of Pikeville, his legacy will live on for years to come.
"I saw him about a week ago. He said, 'Brother Dave, I'm ready to go,'" said Hammond. "Can't wait to see my buddy in Heaven, but he's far better off than we are."
Visitation for Hays will be at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, November 10, at the J.W. Call Funeral Home.
Services will follow at 7:00 p.m.
Burial services will be private.