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Hays Family establishes Edith Chaney Hays Memorial Scholarship

Hays Family Establishes Edith Chaney Hays Memorial Scholarship

Dr. Bill  (class of 73) and Jeanne (class of 75) Hays and the Hays Family established the Edith Chaney Hays Memorial Nursing Scholarship on June 16th, 2021 in honor of Bill’s mother, Edith. 

Edith Chaney Hays was born in Magoffin County, Kentucky on June 30, 1927, but she spent most of her life in Breathitt and Perry counties. At age six she moved, via horseback, to the Breathitt County community of Wolverine where she attended a two-room school through the eighth grade. While enrolled there, she tutored younger children in reading. Always an avid reader herself, she would usually be waiting by the roadside when the county bookmobile made its monthly visit to Wolverine, and she always checked out the maximum number of books allowed.

After graduating from elementary school, she attended Breathitt County High School, no easy task. She had to walk six miles round trip, sometimes in bitter cold winters, but she persevered to graduation. At that point, World War II was winding down, and nurses were in short supply. The summer after high school graduation, Mrs. Hays began nurse’s training at the hospital in Hazard, Ky. She attended formal classes and immediately began practicing in clinical settings. Remarkably, she was working in surgery at age seventeen.

Although she left full-time professional nursing in 1948 when she married Nolan Hays, also a Breathitt County resident, she used her nurse’s training all of her life. She helped friends, neighbors, and family with everything from taking temperatures and giving shots to bandaging wounds and removing stitches. Once she saved her brother’s life by administering first aid to treat peritonitis before he had an emergency appendectomy.

In addition to being a nurse, she served her church and community in many ways. She was a Cub Scout den mother, a Sunday school teacher, and the youth director at the Methodist church in Hazard. For a number of years, she managed the Methodist Mountain Mission used clothing store in Hazard where she was able to assist hundreds of impoverished families. Mrs. Hays, who in her later years was affectionately called G. G. for great grandmother, was a devout Christian who demonstrated her faith daily through acts of generosity and kindness. She passed away in December 2015 at the age of 88. She would be pleased to know that this scholarship was established by family members in her honor to assist others to become nurses and enter the profession she loved.

Pictured Left to right: Dr. Lisa Jones, Associate Chair - School of Nursing, Dr. Brooke Bentley, Chair - School of Nursing, Jeanne Hays, Dr. Bill Hays, Rachel Alexander, Development Officer for Health Sciences, Dr. Colleen Schneck, Interim Dean - College of Health Sciences, Dr. Michael Ballard, Interim Associate Dean - College of Health Sciences.

Published on July 12, 2021

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