Romeoville’s first police chief dies
By Brian Stanley firstname.lastname@example.org September 25, 2012 6:37PM
Updated: October 27, 2012 6:16AM
ROMEOVILLE — Fred Hayes began and ended his law enforcement career as a volunteer patrolling his own neighborhood.
In the intervening five decades, he served as Romeoville’s police chief for 17 years and led three departments in Georgia. On Saturday night, Hayes died near his Florida home at age 75.
Soon after the Chicago native moved to Romeoville in 1959, he was among the first six men to volunteer as the village established a police department.
“He drove the family car, but the village reimbursed him for the gas,” his son, Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes Jr., remembered.
Hayes soon quit the two factory jobs he was holding to become the first paid officer and in 1966 he was chosen as the first full-time chief.
“He brought the department a long way toward professionalism,” said current Chief Mark Turvey, who served under Hayes. “All of the chiefs that have come afterward have built on the foundation he started and he deserves a lot of credit for that.”
Hayes Jr. said his father rarely talked about police work at home.
“I was at a friend’s house watching TV (the day) several people were brutally murdered and he was answering questions about the crime and the arrest for the media. He came home that night and didn’t say anything about it. He really seemed more interested in what we’d done that day,” Hayes Jr. said.
In 1980, Hayes was elected president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.
He retired from police work in 1983 to become Romeoville’s director of public safety, and he later became the village manager.
After leaving Romeoville, Hayes became Chief of Gainesville, Ga., for nine years; Milledgeville, Ga., for four and St. Marys, Ga., for one. He also was president of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
Until being diagnosed with throat cancer last year, Hayes was an avid golfer.
He and his wife, Catherine, also shifted their young family’s annual camping vacations in the western states into traveling throughout the world. Hayes finally retired to The Villages, Fla., but still participated in the neighborhood watch program.
“He never drilled police work into me,” Hayes Jr. said. “My dad was my super hero. I always wanted to be like him.”
Hayes is survived by his wife, four children and six grandchildren.
Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Anderson Memorial Chapel, 606 Townhall Drive in Romeoville.
The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Andrew The Apostle Catholic Church, 505 Kingston Drive, Romeoville.