Local Legend Joe Black Hayes, Sr. Touched Many In 98-Years!

One community leader commented, "I was listening to the radio Monday morning and suddenly felt a void in our community when a caller mentioned that Mr. Hayes had passed away."

That sentiment has been felt across the area as the public has learned that Joe Black Hayes, Sr. passed away peacefully at Adams Place. This 98-year old positive role model touched lives through his athletic abilities, work in the Red Cross, at church and in local government.

He was a member of the Rutherford County Commission (1968-1990) and served on various Rutherford County boards including the Board of Zoning Appeals (1976-1990), which included a stint as chairman (1978-1986); the Rutherford County Planning Commission, and as the Planning Commission chairman from January 1986 to January 1999. He was also the chairman and a member of the Rutherford County Conservation Board from 1970 until his retirement in 2001 and a member of the St. Clair Senior Center Board (1984-2000), which included stint as chairman (1991-1997). 

Joe Black Hayes, Sr. was named to the University of Tennessee Hall of Fame (1989), Cumberland University Hall of Fame (1992), Exchange Club's Book of Golden Deeds (1993), Clara Barton Award from the American Red Cross for 50 years of service (1996), MTSU Hall of Fame (1997), Old Timers Baseball Hall of Fame (1998). 

Mr. Hayes attended McFadden Elementary School and was a 1934 graduate of Murfreesboro Central High School. He attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he excelled in all sports and was captain of the football team in 1937. He graduated from UT in 1939 with a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and on the same day of graduation, June 5, 1939, he married his first wife, former Rubye Elaine Cothran of Eagleville, TN. 

In 1940, he was the assistant football coach and taught agriculture at UT Martin, where in 1941 his son, Joe Black Hayes, Jr was born. Mr. Hayes served his country in the US Navy from 1944 – 46. He then became the Giles County Assistant County Extension Agent in 1946 and had his second son, Rodney James Hayes. He became the Athletic Director and Head Football coach in 1947 at Cumberland University in Lebanon where his son Larry Cothran Hayes was born. While at Cumberland University, he also received his Masters degree in Health and Physical Education from Peabody College.

Legend At MTSU

Joe Black Hayes, Sr. came to Middle Tennessee as an assistant coach under Coach Charles "Bubber" Murphy. As Murphy's right-hand man, Hayes was a line coach and a defensive coordinator who played a part in bringing seven OVC championships, four titles in the Volunteer State Athletic Association and a 133-57-7 record to MT.

In 1950, Hayes founded Middle Tennessee's first wrestling team, it finished second in the Southeastern Tournament in 1954. In establishing the MT Track and Field program in 1955, he launched a tradition of winning runners and jumpers that continues today.

Mr. Hayes retired from coaching in 1969 and from teaching in 1981. 


He was a native of Murfreesboro and the eldest son of the late Wiley B. and Maggie Gray Hayes. Mr. Hayes was preceded in death by his first wife, Elaine Cothran Hayes, who died 1991 and his second wife, Mildred McDonald Hayes, who died in 2004. Mr. Hayes was preceded in death by his brothers, John Thomas, Bucky and Jack, and sister, Emma Hayes. 

He is survived by his sons, Joe Black Hayes, Jr of Murfreesboro, Rodney Hayes and his wife Karen of Murfreesboro, Larry Hayes and his wife Kathy of Savannah, GA, 9 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. 

Step children, Larry McDonald and his wife Nancy of Blackman Community, Gail Smith and her husband Aubrey of Atlanta, GA. 


Funeral service will be 11:00am Friday at First Baptist Church, where he was a lifelong member and deacon. Dr. Eugene Cotey will officiate. Burial will follow in Evergreen Cemetery.

Visitation will be from 4:00 until 8:00pm Thursday at Woodfin Memorial Chapel.

Grandchildren and great grandchildren will serve as active pallbearers. The Deacons of First Baptist Church will serve as honorary pallbearers. 

Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church or Middle Tennessee State University Foundation Scholarship fund in memory of Mr. Hayes.

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