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Donnie Ray Hayes

Staff Writer
The Shawnee News-Star

Loving husband, father, Pop and longtime Bethel Acres resident Donnie Ray Hayes passed from this life into the loving arms of his heavenly Savior Jesus Christ Friday, April 24, 2020, from an abdominal aortic aneurysm at the age of 72.

Don was born in Earlimart, California, on April 11, 1948, to Bennie Woodson and Addie (Harrell) Hays.

Don’s family moved to Bethel Acres in 1960 where he attended school, raised his family and lived for the remainder of his life.

He married the love of his life Trisha (Snow) on Feb. 4, 1967. They were married for 53 years.

He loved building things, music and old cars. He was known to be a Master of Construction and built and remodeled many homes in Shawnee and the surrounding areas.

He began playing music at a young age with his family. He played music with his friends after he moved to Bethel and started playing in bands. He is best known for his band Don Hayes and Country Heritage through the '70s and '80s. After he played many places around Oklahoma including Charlie’s Palace in Shawnee.

He and his friends started Bethel Friends Day 16 years ago to play music together again and give the Bethel community a place to bring their families and visit. Of the event he was known to say, “if you don’t have a friend when you come here, you will have made a few new ones by the time you leave.” In 2005 the Township of Bethel Acres declared the first Saturday of every October to be “Don Hayes Day.”

Don was preceded in death by his parents, brothers William “Bill,” Edgar “Ed,” Bennie “Carl” and sister Mary Bowen.

He is survived by his wife Trisha of the home, children, Stacey Michael and husband Todd; Wade Hayes and wife Lea; Charity Thompson and husband Toby; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Don loved living in Bethel Acres and the many friends he and his family have there.

In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully request that donations be made in his honor to the Bethel Chapter FFA or the American Cancer Society.

A private family graveside service was held at 10 a.m., Monday, April 27, at Hopewell Cemetery in Bethel Acres, under the direction of Cooper Funeral Home of Tecumseh.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC and State of Oklahoma Regulations and Guidelines, please join the celebration of Donnie Ray Hayes life through Cooper Funeral Home’s Facebook page for live streaming of the service.

A public celebration of life will be held at a later time after restrictions have been lifted.

To share memories, or to sign the guestbook online, go to