Robert Hayes

Robert Hayes
American Flight 11

The Man With the Surfboard


Robert Hayes sported a year-round tan because almost everywhere he went, he also sported his surfboard. It did not matter whether he was headed for business or pleasure.

In fact, his wife, Debbie Hayes, said it was not uncommon to see him walking through Logan International Airport in Boston in a business suit with a briefcase in one hand and his black-and-white surfboard in the other.

"It was kind of funny to see him," she remembered.

It was at Logan Airport that she saw him for the first time, actually, although she did not think he was so much funny-looking as cute, she said.

It was 1989 and he had missed his flight. She was the Trans World Airlines customer service agent who had the pleasure of re- booking him. She said that after he returned from his trip, he began to call her at the ticket counter — and it had nothing to do with air travel.

Twelve years and two children later (Robbie is 4 years old and Ryan is 8 months), Mr. Hayes, who was 37 and lived in Amesbury, Mass., devoted his time to his family, his work in sales at Netstal Machinery, a maker of compact disks, and, of course, surfing.

He walked through Logan Airport for the last time on the morning of Sept. 11, headed to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11 for a business meeting.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 1, 2001.




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