Geneva Hays

Geneva Belle Hays, 96, of Derby, made her heavenly journey on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.

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 Cir., Derby, KS 67037. Peterson Funeral Home, of Newton, is in charge of arrangements.

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

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

Music played a huge part of Geneva’s life. She had a 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. Geneva introduced her two daughters to music as well, both vocals and playing the piano.

Her business career spanned more than 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 1950s and ’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.

Geneva was very athletic and competitive. She played basketball in high school, bowled for 40 years, participated in all forms of dancing, camping and fishing, and even took up studies to take flying lessons. Her other greatest enjoyment was spending time with her family.

She was predeceased by her husband, John Ralph Hays; grandson, John Jesse Etter; her parents; and three brothers.

Geneva 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; and numerous nieces and nephews.

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