Helen H. Hayes, a custodian at John Marshall Elementary School in East Hampton for many years, died at home in East Hampton on Saturday. She was 81 and had been diagnosed with cancer two years ago.
Lorraine Smalls of Augusta, Ga., one of Ms. Hayes’s daughters, described her mother as “one of God’s angels on earth.”
Ms. Hayes worked at the John M. Marshall Elementary School from 1981 until 2000. She was active at Calvary Baptist Church in East Hampton and took a special interest in young people.
Until she became ill two years ago, Ms. Hayes participated in taking seniors graduating from East Hampton High School to visit different colleges around the country with the help of William Hartwell Jr., Charlene Hartwell, a niece, Lucy West, a sister, and one of her other daughters, Bonnie Hayes of East Hampton. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, Ms. Hayes gathered a group of young people and traveled to the stricken city to help.
In addition to Lorraine Smalls and Bonnie Hayes, Ms. Hayes is survived by two other children, Dudley Hayes of East Hampton and Denise Parker of Piscataway, N.J. In addition to Lucy West, who lives in East Hampton, she is survived by two other sisters, Bertha Hopson of East Hampton and Marie Gaines of Montclair, N.J. Also surviving are five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her husband, James Hayes, died before her.
Ms. Hayes was one of 10 children born in Virginia but raised on the East End. Born on Feb. 22, 1930, she was a daughter of Robert Hartwell and the former Lottie Mason. Ms. Smalls explained that although her grandmother had made her home here, she would travel to Virginia every time she was ready to give birth to be with a trusted midwife. “She’d stay long enough to have the baby,” Ms. Smalls said.
Family and friends will gather at Calvary Baptist Church in East Hampton tomorrow between 6 and 9 p.m. A funeral service will take place at the church on Saturday at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton.
Charitable contributions were suggested for East End Hospice, 481 Westhampton-Riverhead Road, Westhampton Beach 11978, or for the Lustgarten Foundation, 1111 Stewart Avenue, Bethpage 11714.