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Robert Elliott Hayes, 74, devoted his life to the care and safety of at-risk youth

Robert Elliott Hayes

SOUTHPORT — Robert Elliott Hayes, 74, passed from this life Wednesday, May 3, 2017.

He was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Feb. 7, 1943. He was preceded in death by his mother, Dorothy Mary Giffin; father, Christopher Hayes; and his beloved stepfather, Douglas Giffin.

Survivors include his wife and best friend of 22 years, Pamela Tarler Hayes of Southport, N.C.; son, Daniel Hayes, and his wife, Judy, of Holly Springs, N.C.; son, Anthony Hayes, and his wife, Kelly, of Cameron, N.C.; grandchildren, Raven, Krystal, Emily, Tyler, Brandon and Katie; special step-daughter, Rachel Bowman; brothers, Barry Hayes and Bill Kay; sister, Anne Buzelli; the entire Tarler clan; and beloved nieces, Caroline Gandy (Will) and Jennifer Poteat (Jordan).

Bob was a retired sergeant first class, U.S. Army Special Forces, with combat service in Vietnam and many years of postings overseas in Germany and Austria. After his Army retirement, Bob finished college and earned his Master’s Degree in Guidance at Campbell University.

Although he held various positions throughout his career, including in the Crime Prevention Office for Fort Bragg and as director of the Crime Prevention Division for the State of North Carolina, none was more important or rewarding for him than his 18 years as child custody mediator for the 13th Judicial District of the State of North Carolina. Growing up in the post-World-War-II years with a single mother, an at-risk youth himself, Bob was devoted to the care and safety of at-risk youth in many ways throughout his lifetime, and as custody mediator he was able to better the lives of so many children.

Bob’s accomplishments were as multifaceted as the man himself. A talented competitive swimmer and diver, Bob was a Canadian Junior National swimming champion as a young teenager. He was naturalized as a U.S. citizen four years after joining the U.S. Army on his 18th birthday.

He had a varied and distinguished Army career, especially as a linguist in German and Russian. Bob worked with victims all of his life, especially in rape counseling, child abuse and troubled youth. Bob was a reputable pipe maker and woodworker, loved to sail, drink Irish whiskey and sing Irish fight songs. He was an extraordinary husband, father, and man. There was no nicer, gentler man than Bob Hayes, devoted to his family, friends, God and country.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, May 6, at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 205 E. Moore St., Southport, NC 28461.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Bob’s name to St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Southport; Lower Cape Fear Hospice, 955 Mercy Lane, Bolivia, NC 28422; or the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675-8517.

Online condolences may be made at

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