Community activist Ronn Hayes died Oct. 1 at age 75 from a head injury caused by a fall that occurred the previous week. A 1998 Dolphin Award winner, Hayes was an actor, a broadcaster, a tree trimmer, political activist and a humanitarian.
“He has changed so many lives,” his ex-wife Carol Capek said. “He was such an advocate for human rights and environmental causes. He did not just help people, he gave them a fishing pole.”
Hayes humanitarian activities included creating schools and other facilities for North Korea refugees while he was stationed in South Korea as a Marine during the Korean War. Nearly 40 years later, Hayes would help another suffering people when he created a sister city to Malibu in El Salvador. There, he helped people devastated by the country’s civil war to relocate their villages they had been forced out of. Hayes also helped to found the Malibu Labor Exchange, which provides safe jobs for dayworkers.
“One of the last things he said to me was that he just wanted to do good for humanity,” said his daughter Vanessa Hayes. “He was very much about wanting to better the world, to bridge relationships from various parts of the world.”
Hayes was a romantic for the environment, helping the Sierra Club in its fight to prevent the Grand Canyon from being dammed in the 1960s and 1970s. He also was a lover of whitewater rafting, running a company with some friends from 1969 to 1975 that took people on rafting tours down the Colorado River.
Hayes was born in San Francisco on Feb. 26, 1929. The son of an actress and a radio broadcaster, he grew up in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In 1952, Hayes graduated from Stanford University with a degree in international relations. He then joined the Marines.
“He’s a pacifist,” Vanessa Hayes said. “It was interesting being a Marine and being a pacifist. He fortunately never had to fight in combat.”
Also in 1952, Hayes married his first wife, Joan. The couple had three children. The Hayes moved to San Jose in 1954, where Ronn Hayes became a radio broadcaster. He came to Los Angeles County in 1958 to pursue an acting career.
Hayes starred in several television shows and appeared in films and commercials over the years. He acted into the 1980s.
Hayes moved to Malibu in 1984. His daughter said he immediately became active in political life. Hayes worked with Walt Keller for Malibu cityhood, a goal that was finally met in 1991. But to many in Malibu, Hayes was known as a tree surgeon. Vanessa Hayes said her father worked until about a year ago, trimming and taking care of the trees of many people, including celebrities.
Hayes is survived by three children, Vanessa, Heidi and Peter and his wife, Thi-ly and grandchildren, Anais, Jesse, Zachary, Aiden and Lucas.
A memorial service will take place on Nov. 13 at the Hayes home at 12:30 p.m. For more information, call 310.457.7569.