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Elmer Lee Hayles, known to his family and friends as Lee or Deda, passed away peacefully on July 5, 2023.
Lee was born the youngest of 6 siblings, Tim, Claud, Buster, Charles, Happy and sister Alberta, in Mississippi on July 17, 1924. He lived a hard life working in the fields of his parents’ farm. Lee liked to tell me how he never lacked for food even during the Great Depression as his dad shared food from their labors with anyone that was hungry. He shared many childhood adventures with his beloved dog, Seed Corn and pet squirrel, Miss Red.
Lee joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940 and then the Navy at age 17 in 1942. After training at Navy Pier in Chicago Lee survived several close calls during World War II as he lost many of his friends.
When he returned to civilian life in 1945, Lee married and raised four children, Matt, Bill, Michael, and Beth. Lee married his second wife Betty in 1973 and they recently celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Together they raised two daughters, Corinne and Eileen, and many beloved pets.
Lee could learn and build anything he set his mind to. With only an 8th grade education he built and ran a successful printing business for many years until his retirement. With his wife Betty by his side, they built their own home and even after retirement ran several businesses together. Lee had many hobbies including wood working, with his favorite project being making much loved bunk beds for his grandchildren. He had excellent photography skills that he used to capture his favorite subject matter, flowers, and shared these photos with friends and loved ones.
Lee enjoyed spending days with his grandchildren, sharing his computer and photography skills. For years Lee and Betty made their annual journey to Arizona where they would spend their winters in the sun with friends. When Lee was in his 80’s he wrote a book about his life called The Southern Country Boy that his grandson Sean recently helped publish to Audible and Amazon Kindle.
We all miss our beloved “Deda”, which means part Daddy and part Grandpa, a name he gave himself that he felt explained his special place in all our lives. The last few years of Lee’s life were spent close to his family in Lake Geneva as he looked forward to his annual birthday party each July of his 90’s. We had hoped to celebrate 100 years with him, but his last words were, “I want to be with God.” We know he is in the loving arms of Jesus now and he will remain in our hearts forever.
Deda Lee is survived by his loving wife Betty, his children Corinne Dimiceli (Sal), William Hayles (Maureen), Michael Hayles, Elizabeth (James) Gonio and Eileen Flynn, 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son Matthew Hayles, his parents William J. Hayles Sr. and Mamie Lee (Champion) Hayles and his siblings.
Elmer's visitation will be held on Monday, July 10th, 2023 from 10am-12pm in the Main Chapel at Derrick Funeral Home with his funeral service immediately to follow. The graveside burial with military honors will be held at Oak Hill Cemetery after the service.
In lieu of other expressions of sympathy the family has asked that you donate in Elmer's name to the Time is Now. A link has been provided below for your convenience.
To sign the online guest register please click the "Share a Memory" box on the left side of your screen.
Derrick Funeral Home is honored to be assisting the family.
The Time is Now
P.O. Box 1, Lake Geneva WI 53147