Richard Hays

Hays, Richard M.
Richard Mortimer Hays died peacefully Thanksgiving morning surrounded by his family at The Nathaniel Witherell home in Greenwich. He was 85 years old and was recovering from a fall after suffering from heart disease for many years. Beloved husband of Susan Pope Hays and father of Laurie, David, Susannah and John, Dr. Hays had lived in Greenwich since 1960 when he first joined the faculty of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. Dr. Hayswas an internationally renowned scientist for his work on cell membranes and the function of the kidney. He addressed the problem of just how water moved across the cells and was able to show in 1973 conclusively that there were specialized channels in the cell membrane. Later studies by Dr. Peter Agre at Johns Hopkins established the molecular structure of the channels, for which Agrewas awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2003. As a Professor of Medicine and physician taking care of patients in the Bronx, Dr. Hays also served as the Director of the Division of Nephrology and was a founder of the Division of Education at Einstein. Adored by thousands of students, he received teaching awardsfrom the Leo Davidoff Society in 1995 and 2003 and was voted most popular professor several times before his retirement in 2007. He also served as Director of the Mt. Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine, and was a longstanding member of the board of directors. He belonged to numerous scientific groups and for most of his career remained involved with the Salt and Water Club. In 1966 he was a visiting scientist at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel. An avid sailor, Dr. Hays raced with the Rhodes 18 fleet at Greenwich Point and enjoyed cruising the coast of Maine as a child and later in life. He was a poet, pianist and lover of music. He entertained his family playing the piano by ear, the trumpet and harmonica.
Dr. Hays was born in 1927, the son of Mortimer Hays, a noted trial lawyer, and Sara Hays. He attended Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, Long Island, and served in the Army Air Force. He entered Harvard College and graduated in 1949. He then attended Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he first developed his interest in the physiology of the kidney. He did his residency training at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and became a fellow at the Tufts-New England Center Hospital under Dr. William Schwartz. He then worked as a fellow withDr. Alexander Leaf at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Dick, who was also called Poppy,is survived by six grandchildren; Claire and Eugenie Montaigne; Sophie, John and Henry Hays;and Ryan Hays. He is also survived by his brother David Hays, who was the founding director of the National Theatre of the Deaf. Burial was private. A memorial service is being planned for a later date.

Published in GreenwichTime on Nov. 30, 2012