OBITUARY: Genevra Belle Hays

Genevra Belle Hays (nee Drake) made her heavenly journey on Oct. 19, 2019.

Born December 9, 1922, to William and Pearl Drake, she was the fourth of five children.  During the depression, she worked the farm fields with her dad and after graduating from Leon High School, the family moved to Winfield where she was the office bookkeeper for the local co-op.  

Genevra was adventurous and in 1948 traveled to Atlanta with three girlfriends to find work following WWII.  There, she met her future husband, John Ralph Hays, of 58 years, singing in the choir at First Methodist Church in Atlanta.  

Music played a huge part of Genevra’s life with her beautiful soprano voice and was also an accomplished violinist, cellist and pianist.  She was very active at West Side United Methodist Church in the choir, Sunday School and on various committees.  Genevra introduced her two daughters to be musical as well, both vocally and playing the piano.  

Her business career spanned over 50 years from Georgia, Florida, and mostly in Kansas when she and her husband made the decision to move to Wichita in 1955.  She was highly respected as the executive secretary for the president of Cessna in the 1950-60s, held other business manager roles and retired after being the office manager responsible for running Hilltop Manor Mutual Housing Corp. for nearly 20 years.

Genevra was very athletic and competitive playing basketball in HS, bowling for 40 years, all forms of dancing, camping, fishing and even took up studies to take flying lessons.   Her other greatest enjoyment was spending time with her family. 

Genevra is survived by daughters, Arvene Hays Kilby and Rebecca Etter Threadgill (Timothy); one sister, Dorothy Jean Bernard; granddaughter, Crysteen Gillenwater; grandson, Bryce Demaree; great-granddaughter, Courtney Gillenwater; numerous nieces and nephews.   She is pre-deceased by her husband, John Ralph Hays; grandson, John Jesse Etter; her parents and three brothers.  

A private family graveside service will be held at Winfield Highland Cemetery.  Memorial donations can be made in her name to Derby Health & Rehabilitation Center, 731 N. Klein Circle, Derby, Kan., 67037.

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