Obituaries

Ralph Hayden

1/16/2021
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The young Springhiller with a magnificent voice and a love of playing hockey and ball with his friends from the Rows, could never have imagined the adventure-filled life that awaited him. Born March 3, 1937, to Belle Hayden, a woman with a huge and generous heart, and George Hayden, a man blessed with a beautiful singing voice, Ralph Douglas Hayden probably expected to live his life as a coal miner like most of his family and friends. Fate and a focused enthusiasm had different plans.

You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You

Before his twentieth birthday, Ralph Hayden learned one of life’s greatest lessons. As a 16-year-old Ralph began dating, and soon fell in love with, fifteen-year-old Diane Boss. Two years later, on March 26, 1955, Ralph and Diane married and were propelled onto the family stage, a safe harbour where Ralph could drop anchor as he began an adventure-filled, sometimes tumultuous, sometimes almost magical, life. Ralph flourished under the umbrella of being loved and of loving someone in return.

Beginning his working life as a coal miner, Ralph’s love of singing soon brought him the appreciation of a wide-ranging Springhill audience. Performing as a soloist at the Wesley Church or the Capital Theatre or singing with the award-winning quartet, the Major Chords and their mentor, Clara Ritchie, Ralph grew more confident in his musical talents as he recognized the joy he could bring to others. The birth of daughter Kim added another layer of happiness to the young couple’s already intense love.

A move to Moncton in 1957 where Ralph obtained employment as a meat-cutter at the Co-Op enhanced Ralph’s musical career. Soon he was performing with the Amos Landry Band at the Beausejour and was a sought-after soloist for special events from weddings and funerals to Bar Mitzvahs. Their income supplemented by Ralph’s singing engagements and Diane’s work at Eaton’s, Ralph and Diane were thrilled to purchase their own home. With its open-door policy the bungalow on Melrose Street welcomed countless friends and family members who marvelled at the interior renovations, the meticulous lawns and colourful flower gardens, and of course the carefully maintained backyard pool where the sounds of laughter echoed. Diane’s parents, her siblings, Al and Jerry and their families, special cousins, aunts, and uncles welcomed Ralph with open arms, leaving refreshed and smiling after a visit to the Melrose Street home. Two new stage crew had joined the Hayden family; the births of Kathy and Kirk magnified the love within the family unit. Ralph would have the pleasure of being a minor hockey and baseball coach-positions which won him not only the respect of the players but even of an opposing Little League Coach who recognized Ralph as a gentleman he could look up to and a lifelong friend.
Yet another adventure was in store. In his well-deserved position with the City of Moncton at the Moncton Coliseum, the talented musician spent 22 years bringing world renowned musicians to the stage. Ralph’s magnetic personality had attracted the love and loyalty of coworkers at the Co-Op and that same respect and admiration continued among employees at the Coliseum. Decades later, they recall his well-known smile, his hearty laugh and his always present sense of humour. Ralph’s larger than life presence brought a signature vitality to the venue at the Coliseum where musicians such as Nana Mouskouri, Tom Jones, Reta McNeil, and fellow Springhiller Anne Murray, performed to sold out audiences. Ralph had found that place God calls you to. Insisting that Diane share in his good fortune, he always made certain she met and spent time with her favourite celebrities. There was, at times, a touch of magic in the air-a magic magnified by the presence of love.

The loss of their beloved daughter, Kim, in 2007, delivered a devastating blow. Only their deep love for each other and for Kathy, Kirk, and their grandchildren allowed the couple to navigate the treacherous waters of grief. Attempting to rein in his own intense pain, Ralph was a rock and a guidepost for his wife and his children.

What a Wonderful World

Playing hockey with the Slow Pokes, trips to Florida and Hawaii, hunting and fishing with his buddies and of course the “odd” game of golf, return visits to Springhill where he was in high demand and inevitably recruited to sing in the variety concerts featured by the Reunion Committees, dinners and social gatherings with neighbours and their extensive list of friends, combined to remind Ralph how fortunate he was and how valuable were the bonds of friendship. Fellow musicians enjoyed the privilege of sharing a stage and harmonizing with Ralph.

No matter how extensive his list of friends, Di and the children always shared center stage with Ralph. He wasn’t a king; he didn’t possess the world and its gold, yet Ralph Hayden possessed the most valued gift of all-a family and friends whose love encircled him, enhanced his life and will remain long after his earthly journey has ended. Ralph nurtured love wherever he journeyed; that love was returned to him in abundance.

Sharing center stage with her beloved husband for almost 66 years, with tears in her eyes and a smile of remembrance, wife Diane can proclaim, “Thank you Ralph for a wonderful journey.” Kathy adds, “I lost my friend, my hero, my mentor, MY DAD.” Kirk shares his feelings of gratitude, “He is the man I looked up to-the man who taught me everything I know.” He was an exceptional grandfather to all of his grandchildren, loving each one intensely.. His granddaughters are especially grateful that, like a Dad, their grandfather stepped in to support them when they needed it most. The tides will ebb and flow but the distinct footprint of Ralph Hayden will remain embedded on the sands of time.

Music in the soul can be heard by the universe. (Lao Tzu)

Ralph’s magnificent voice resounds from the heavens, reminding each of us what truly matters. Ralph Hayden re-worked the lyrics and lived their message: “You’re SOMEBODY when somebody loves you.”

Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, visitation and funeral service will be held at a later date.

Arrangements under the professional care of Passage Funeral Co-operative and Cremation Centre, 3754 Route 134, Shediac Bridge, (506) 532-1050.

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