Matthew Allen Hayes’ thirst for knowledge, desire to help those in need and his unconditional love for those he held closest to his heart is what will always resonate with his family.
Matthew’s mother Sally Hayes described Matthew as a smart and hard-working person who always gave his best effort in every aspect in his life. Sally said Matthew’s passion for video games translated to his school work, personal relationships and overall love for life.
“When he was into playing his games, he was into them; he was very focused,” Sally said. “So as he grew up, he was extremely focused. He was a straight-A student all the way from grade school to high school… Smart kid, that is the biggest thing [about him]. He learned stuff quick had a photographic memory. He loved to read.”
Sally said Matthew had decided to start a personal library. His brother Michael said in four short years, Matthew had accumulated 84 books, all of which he read.
At his memorial service, Matthew’s father Steve Hayes talked about the different characteristics Matthew embodied. Steve called Matthew a leader, a thinker, an animal whisper, a debater, a friend, a brother, a son — but most importantly he was their “Matt Matt.”
Steve recalled a memory in which Matt “the thinker” — a name affectionately given to him by his family — made an appearance. It’s a memory that still resonates with Steve today.
“I remember Matt was in middle school,” Steve said. “I can’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but in my infinite wisdom, I had mentioned to Matt, ‘Matt, nothing in life is free.’ He kind of looked at me and didn’t say anything. Well, Matt must’ve thought some more about that because the next day he came over to me and said, ‘Love is free,’ and you know what, he was right. I couldn’t argue with that. It was typical with Matt, he always thought things through, made his own opinions and I liked that.”
Sally said the Hayes brothers were inseparable. For Michael Hayes, the fact that he was older didn’t stop him from looking up to his younger sibling. Michael described Matthew as a person who was passionate, outgoing, driven and honest.
“Matt was one of the most kind hearted genuine guys I’ve ever known,” Michael said. “Whether he was being positive or just telling you something you didn’t want to hear. He always told you the truth — that’s what I envied about my brother. Matt was the type of leader you wanted to follow; even though I was his big brother, he led me.”
Blake Dallas, Matthew’s fraternity brother, said although he and met Matthew while they were pledging for their fraternity, it felt as if the two had known each other for their entire life. Dallas said it was a testament to the kind of person Matthew was.
“I saw a lot of what I wanted to be like in Matt,” Dallas said. “He was the kind of person everyone loved being around. His unique sense of humor never failed to get a laugh. He lived by such a strong set of moral values. His undying compassion for his friends and family inspired me to be a better man. His memory will always be there to guide me. Having a friend like Matt was a blessing that word will never fully express.”