Helping Families and Friends Honor Their Loved One

Roy Hayward, age 78

Roy Hayward was born June 28, 1945 in Springfield, Missouri, the oldest child of Anna Laura (Ady) Hayward and Neal Hayward. He passed away on November 21, 2023 at his home in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Roy and his three younger brothers grew up on farms in Kansas and Colorado.  The demands of farming left very little leisure time. When the family found time to relax, they enjoyed fishing, hiking and climbing in the mountains. Roy’s preferences were hiking and climbing.  He also had a lifelong curiosity and interest in learning how things were made, how stuff worked, and finding ways to make things work better. However, this did not show up in his schoolwork. Bringing home one of his report cards from grade school he wrote on the envelope “It’s too bad they don’t give a grade for courage. I’d of got an A for bringing this home.”

A few months after graduating from high school, Roy joined the U.S. Air Force.  His dad had been a bomber pilot during WWII and Roy also wanted to be a pilot. Roy trained as a jet fighter mechanic, helping maintain jet training aircraft at March Air Force Base in southern California.  To get closer to his goal of becoming a pilot, during his free time Roy attended college classes and took flying lessons.

The classes and flying lessons were interrupted in 1966 by assignment at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam.  Roy served as a Jet Fighter Mechanic during a one-year tour in the Viet Nam War.  After Roy got back to the US, he earned his private pilot’s license and bought a little Ercoupe, which he enjoyed flying.

After Roy was discharged from the Air Force, he sold his airplane to help pay for college at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he majored in Aerospace Engineering. Roy earned his commercial pilots license in 1969. He stopped flying and left college in 1970.  For a time, he worked as a hard rock miner at Henderson Molybdenum mine in Colorado.  Roy also worked at other jobs, such as operating a crane, plus occasionally working with his brothers on building or remodeling.

When Roy saved enough money, he left the cold winters of Colorado and bought 80 acres of land in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas. Roy’s experience in building and remodeling was limited, but he always had an interest in trying something new. Arriving in the summer to a hot, humid part of the country made Roy realize the importance of staying cool. That Arkansas summer weather was Roy’s inspiration for experimenting with building techniques.  After 8 years the result was a one-of-a-kind underground house.

In 1970, Roy met his future wife Mary while he was in college.  Roy and Mary lived together until he moved to Arkansas in 1976, making frequent trips back to Denver to see her. In 1977, Mary transferred to a federal government job in Little Rock and bought a house in North Little Rock.  Not liking to rush into things, Roy and Mary were married in 1983.

Not too long after they were married, the roof on Mary’s house needed to be replaced.  Roy replaced Mary’s roof. Most of the houses in the neighborhood were of a similar age with several of them needing new roofs, Roy began his career of building and remodeling as the neighborhood roofer.

During this time, Roy decided to spend some of his free time running.  He struck up conversations with other runners in the neighborhood, who ran around the neighborhood streets, then over to Burns Park and back for more miles. Those conversations led to joining a running club, serving as an officer, and going to local foot races all around Arkansas.  Going to so many races and meeting so many other like-minded people who loved running and the friendly competition of the sport, gave Roy a lifetime of wonderful friendships.

After several years of remodeling houses for others, Roy designed and built a house just for Mary and himself.  Like the underground house it was a long-time project, another unique and special house, and truly a pleasure to live in.

At the age of 54, Roy decided to update his flying skills. Once again he began flying lessons, this time using flight simulators and an iPad. As a result of his efforts, Roy earned a pilot’s instrument rating. Soon after Mary’s retirement, Roy was able to buy another airplane, this time a 1997 Mooney J Model. He and Mary spent 10 years flying and enjoying the plane, often taking trips to visit families in Colorado and Illinois.

Roy and Mary celebrated 40 official years of marriage on March 31, 2023 in their home. That was an unforgettable anniversary, as part of the day was spent watching tornado warnings, then sheltering in the basement as the tornado passed through their neighborhood. Several houses near their home were badly damaged or destroyed, but their house stood firm, thanks to Roy’s building skills. Soon after the tornado went through, 77-year-old “git ‘er done” Roy was outside operating a gas chainsaw, chopping up one of the two large trees that had fallen near the house.

Always interested in learning and creating, Roy spent the last part of his life working on another building project. This required cleaning up some of the area with an excavator, then starting a small, cottage at their property near Hot Springs. Like his other creations, that little cottage is special and unique. Sadly, the house was unfinished when Roy suffered a devastating stroke in mid-November.

Roy spent his last few days at home in hospice care. Although Roy was unable to speak, he knew his loved ones were nearby and could respond with gestures and hugs. Whenever some of Roy’s favorite songs played on YouTube, everyone would smile as Roy enjoyed some of his favorite songs, moving his feet to the rhythm of the music.

Roy Hayward passed away at home surrounded by several people who loved him: his wife Mary and his brothers David (Janet) Roger (Debbie) and Duane, plus one nephew (Dustin).  Roy also leaves behind several other nieces and nephews, plus other relatives in his family and his wife’s family.

Roy also leaves behind many, many lifelong friends who loved him for his enthusiasm for living, his interest in so many things, and the intelligent, unique, thoughtful and kind person that he was.  It was a true pleasure to know Roy and have him be a part of our lives. He is missed and loved by many of us.  Especially one of us.

A memorial service for Roy will be planned in the spring of 2024.

Arrangements by A Natural State Funeral Service 2620 West Main Street, Jacksonville, Arkansas 72076. 501-982-3400. Online guestbook available at


  • Tom Stuthard Posted December 5, 2023 9:50 PM

    So sorry to read the news of Roy passing. Always enjoyed my runs and conversations with him. Condolences to Mary and family.

  • Alan Babcock Posted December 6, 2023 8:57 PM

    Roy was a special guy. I could share flying stories and then find a run to enjoy . He is truly missed. My best to Mary and his family.

  • David Samuel Posted December 7, 2023 3:44 AM

    I will miss that big smile when Roy and I met at running events. I am proud to have known him. Roy will be missed by many friends in the running community of Arkansas. So sorry for your loss Mary.

  • Manfred Galatowitsch Posted December 7, 2023 7:41 AM

    Mary, so sad to read about Roy passing away.

  • Cathy Throneberry Posted December 7, 2023 9:25 AM

    So sorry to hear of Roy passing, I remember his smiling face and encouragement over the years when I did race. It was always nice to see him and his smile. Condolences to Mary and family.

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