AUGUSTA - Donald L. Hayford Sr., 88, passed away to his rest on Sunday, Jan. 26, in the hospice care unit at the VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus, with his loved ones by his side. Donald had previously been a resident of Patriot Place, also in the Togus Medical Center, for the past three and a half years. Donald lived in Pittston for nearly 50 years before residing in the "Old Soldier's Home," as he lovingly referred to Togus.
He was one of seven children born to Elbert D. Hayford and Gertrude Boothby Hayford, of Farmingdale, where he grew up in the "big yellow house" on Maine Avenue.
He was a graduate of Gardiner High School, class of 1943. Following graduation, he worked for the summer as a carpenter on masts for wooden ships and building boats. In September that same year he enlisted in the Army to help defend our country in World War II. He served as a light machine gunner and a military policeman in Company C, 157th Infantry Regiment in combat in Italy, Southern France and Germany. He was awarded two Purple Hearts for being wounded in two separate battles. While wounded himself, he heroically saved the life of his captain. In 1987, Don was able to travel to Alabama to reunite with his captain, and was received with a heartfelt welcome from the captain and his family. He also received the Good Conduct Medal and the Expert Marksman Medal.
He worked as a master carpenter for 28 years for his brother-in-law's company, A.G. Dodge and Sons, Builder. Many of the custom designed homes he worked on were in the development named, "Hayford Heights" in Farmingdale. The land originally belonged to his family as part of the homestead he grew up on and "A.G."developed it. Don was known for his exceptional craftsmanship and signed many of his handcrafted cabinetry. Today, when the homes in Hayford Heights are advertised for sale, many are specified as having, "Hayford Cabinets." Ten years prior to his retirement in 1987, he worked for Fred Benner Builders of Farmingdale.
Don loved to work his "green thumb." He had a wonderful orchard that is still productive and an abundant garden which he turned into many creative dishes. He was always busy doing something or fixing something. He loved to rig up "this or that" so he wouldn't "waste anything"! He loved to make people laugh and he was always coming up with some kind of funny story to engage you in laughter. He loved to recite poetry and put a delightful emphasis into it. While in his early 80's Donald visited the famous Longfellow's House in Portland, where they invited him to recite "The Children's Hour," in the same room Longfellow himself had written the poem in 1859. All the visitors applauded Don's recitation. We will always remember that smile!!
Don also loved to read and learn of things happening all around the world. He kept a journal for many, many years as did his grandfather before him. He loved to fish, no matter if it was simply trolling the lake, deep sea fishing or smelting. He loved the out of doors and spent many hours outside working on projects such as jacking up his huge barn by himself to repair it, building solar panels to heat his hot water or up on the roof finishing the new chimney he had built from the ground up with such precision.
He will be dearly missed by those who loved him, but we will all have such wonderful memories and stories to tell of all his little antics and his wonderful sense of humor and the twinkle in his eyes.
Donald was predeceased by his parents; his son, Thomas; his first wife of 15 years, Maribel Seekens Hayford; his second wife of 36 years, Grace Parlin Frith Hayford; his daughter, Debra Hayford-Guerrett; and his sisters, Eleanor Cunningham, Margaret Dodge, Nancy Hetherington and Olive Washburn.
He is survived by his children, Diana Lathrop, and her husband, William, of Chelsea, Susan Hayford Wallen and her husband, Alfred, of Randolph, Donald Hayford Jr. and his wife, Debbie, of Pittston, William Frith and his wife, Cindy, of Pittston, and Wendy Gregory and her husband, Alan, of Pittston; one brother, Lt. Col. Elbert D. Hayford II, of North Whitefield; one sister, Janice Perkins, of Edgecomb; 14 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
With our hearts overflowing with appreciation, we wish to thank all of the loving, dedicated staff at Patriot Place and Togus Springs for their compassionate care and respect they showed to our beloved Donald. We will never forget you!
A service with full military honors will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, at the new Maine Veterans' Memorial Cemetery Chapel, 163 Mount Vernon Road in Augusta. The arrangements are under the care of Staples Funeral Home in Gardiner. There will be no visiting hours per Donald's request.
In lieu of flowers, it was Donald's wish that any contributions would go to the Disabled American Veterans, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 05250-0301, or you may use their website www.dav.org/veterans/ContactUs.