I've been a mayor, written a bestselling novel, worked through the Lilly Endowment for the improvement of the lives of Native Americans, but what I've enjoyed and valued most through all those experiences has been sincere friendships and love.

 


Magazine
Fall/Winter 1999

Will Hays, Jr.
writer, attorney, former Mayor of Crawfordsville

What event of the 20th century had the most significant impact on your profession or field of study? What lesson do you take away from that event?

My life's work has included the practice of law, writing, public service, and foundation employment. In one way or another, specifically or generally, I'd say World War II had the greatest impact on all these areas. The lesson from that: the fulfillment of one's desire to serve not only one's own needs, but others, as well, brings the greatest reward.

Personally, what is the most meaningful life lesson you have taken from your vocation or avocation?

I've been a mayor, written a bestselling novel, worked through the Lilly Endowment for the improvement of the lives of Native Americans, but what I've enjoyed and valued most through all those experiences has been sincere friendships and love.

 

What person(s) or mentor(s) have had the most significant impact on your life? Can you describe how that person affected your life?

Other than my wife and children, I'd list Ray Russell, a black man hired by my absent father to be the man in my juvenile life; Helen Fischer, a “governess” when my mother was not well; and my father, Will Hays, Sr., who was an unequaled role model, an altogether human and humane gentleman.

In your experience, what is the greatest misconception the public has about your vocation (or field of study) or the people in that vocation?

That lawyers are shoddy; that writing is easy and is dependent on the writer's mood; that script-writing takes less talent than other kinds of writing; that being a mayor isn't a complicated job; that making effective grants of money is easy.

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