Ellen Hayes, most affectionately known as Nana or Mom, passed away on September 24, 2015. She was born Ellen Louise Argo, to Jesse Graham Argo and Mary Ellen (Robran) Argo, at the Santa Ana Valley Hospital, in Santa Ana, California, on January 11, 1930. Ellen and her older half-brother Dale were followed by 11 more children. As the oldest daughter in a family of 13 “Louise”, as she was called by her siblings, was a nurturing, fun-loving caregiver. Throughout her entire life Ellen loved to create beautiful things and used her many and varied talents to make every occasion a special event.
Ellen’s early years were spent in Oklahoma, then California, and then Oregon where Ellen graduated from Gresham Union High School in 1947.
In her late teens, Ellen moved to Montana and made it her home, working two jobs and oil tinting pictures at night. It was in Billings that Ellen met the man who would become her husband of 61 years, Walton “Wally” Hayes. Wally and Ellen eloped on their Harley and were married in Columbus, Montana, on the 16th of July, 1949. A year and a half later, they started their family with the arrival of Walton Earl “Sonny” Hayes, Jr., followed by two daughters, Desiree Louise Hayes in 1959 and Erica Lynne Hayes in 1964.
While raising her family Ellen attended the Billings Business College, and became proficient in shorthand and typing. She would use these skills for the rest of her life. She was the bookkeeper and contract person for the family business, King Koin Launderette, as well as, the family historian, keeping detailed records of everything. Her family and friends were the focus of her life. She saved every card and letter she ever received and responded to those letters with cards and letters of her own. She never forgot a birthday, special event, or a thank you.
Ellen used her creativity to design and sew costumes for the Fox and Babcock Theaters, the Billings Studio Theater, and the Alberta Bair Theater. In addition, to costuming, she also ushered for the Alberta Bair Theater and was a volunteer tour guide at the Moss Mansion. She was a lector, an usher, a Eucharistic minister for St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral and a secretary for St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. Ellen, also, worked as an election judge for many years. She was a member of the Graduates, the Billings Motorcycle Club, the Girl Scouts of America, the 59’ers Square Dance Club, and her Bunco group. Ellen had a love of gardening, growing the most beautiful roses and the very best tasting tomatoes.
Ellen’s memory lives on in her children, Walton “Sonny” Hayes, Jr., Desiree (Don) Smith and Erica (Doug) Anderson; her seven grandchildren, Tara, Erik (Mel) and Lance Hayes, Jared Smith, Alexandra “Lexi”, Nicholas “Nick” and Cassandra “Cassi” Anderson; her two great-grandchildren, Ryland and Ronan Hayes; her siblings Joe Argo, Bill Argo and Jacqueline “Jackie” French; as well as several nieces and nephews and in all of those with whom she interacted. She was preceded in death by her husband Walton Hayes, her parents, many of her siblings, and her beautiful daughter-in-law, Lisbeth Hayes.
A Funeral Mass will be said for Ellen at 10 AM, Saturday, October 10th, 2015 at St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral, located at 215 N. 31st St., Billings, MT. Rite of committal will be held at Holy Cross Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, do as Ellen would do, and reach out to those you love with a card, a message, or a hug to let them know what they mean to you.