Rosa Lucille Hayes is my paternal Great Aunt. She was born March 23, 1901, in Pleasant Hill, Cass County, Missouri, to Hamilton and Elvira (Register) Hayes. She was the youngest of 9 children. From a very young age, she loved taking care of things, from the family pets to the farm animals and the others in her household. This desire began when she was 5 years old and she helped nurse her ailing father who died later that year.
In 1920, at the age of 19, Rosie enrolled in Nursing School. This had been a lifelong dream. After graduation, she began her career at Lexington Memorial Hospital in Lexington, Missouri. Rosie was what was referred to as a “Modern” woman. She wasn’t interested in getting married and she never did. She enjoyed dating and courting but she just wanted to live her life her way. She loved the outdoors and animals.
She dedicated her life to helping others. She took care of any relative that was ill and she sat by the bedside of her dying kin often being the last one to speak with them. She volunteered many hours taking care of children in the hospitals and rescuing cats and dogs. She was a woman of great love and strength.
There is a family story that tells of a time when Rosie was about 30 years old. She was attending a family reunion that was held on the banks of the Missouri River in Lexington, Missouri. The Hayes family was very large and included tons of children. As the adults were sitting on their blankets talking and enjoying their day, they suddenly heard some of the children screaming. Without a moment thought Aunt Rosie jumped up and took off in the direction of the noise. One of the teenage boys was in the river flailing around trying to get out. The current was too strong for him to remain standing long enough to get to shore. Rosie ran straight into the river and swam out to the boy. The boy hung on to her neck and she started trying to swim to the edge of the water but the water was too strong. My Uncle Wilburn had run to his truck and grabbed a rope throwing it out to Rosie. After a few attempts, she finally grabbed it and the men pulled them to shore. During the struggle in the river, the boy had swallowed a lot of water. Once they got out Rosie began CPR, saving the boys’ life. When the boy began to breathe well enough to get up Rosie stood up and said: “There is no way you will ever convince me that a man is better than a woman!” With that, she walked to her car and drove herself home to change into something dry.
Aunt Rosie outlived all of her sisters and brothers except one, dying on May 9, 1988, at the age of 87. Her Tombstone inscription says it all!
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