To really know a person, you need to know their history.
Judge Jonathan Hayes, 73, passed away at Greenville Memorial Hospital in Greenville, SC on December 15, 2021.
He was born Jeffrey Edward Grobe on March 2, 1948, to Mary Page Sherman and Lloyd Grobe of Spokane, Washington. He legally changed his name in 1987 to Judge Jonathan Hayes. He never explained the Hayes, but Jonathan came from the novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Judge was a nickname given to him after an incident with a cue ball when someone cheated him during a game of pool. He rarely played pool again.
Raised in Washington, Oregon, Nebraska, California, Michigan, and New York, he was the third of three children and the comedian of the family. His dad worked for GM and every time he was promoted, the family had to move. They settled in Buffalo, NY for a while where Jed (as his family called him) graduated from high school.
He was a thespian starting with a starring role in the Fantasticks at Clarence High School in Buffalo, NY. At his high school graduation, he was shocked to receive the Drama award for his supporting role in a play in which he literally “stole the show”. He had a wonderful sense of humor and entertained his classmates to the exasperation of the teachers*. Judge was on the swim team, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He played hockey where, not a surprise to any of us, he was frequently in the penalty box.
Judge was patriotic during a time when being patriotic in the USA was not popular. He enlisted in the Army right out of school hoping to avoid Vietnam, but that didn’t happen. He cross-trained as an Airborne Medic and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. Because Vietnam was a controversial and unpopular war, after one and a half tours there, Judge was slipped back into his own country to avoid protestors. He arrived in Dallas in 1968 where his mom and dad were living at the time.
Like many veterans of war, he had a difficult time re-adjusting to civilian life. He joined various motorcycle clubs seeking the camaraderie he had with his brothers in the service. He rode fast and partied hard. Always trying to outrun the demons that chased him at night. Those demons continued to haunt him the rest of his life.
Over the years, he developed a deep resonant voice that was perfect for radio*. After working various unsatisfying jobs, a friend paid for him to go to Broadcasting school. He finally found his niche and his future in radio began. When he started his first radio job in 1970 at KIXL in Dallas, Texas, Judge went by the name Jeff Edwards.
He was probably best known for his perennial traffic reports on KVIL and KLUV (quickly earning the same recognition and popularity of seasoned competitors like Ben Laurie, Dick Siegel, John McCarty, etc.). But his time at KVIL began as the station’s overnight jock after moving across town from a gig at the country-formatted KLIF-1190. By the early 90s, he was out of the chopper and back at the console for KVIL, where his duties also included production for the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network (KVIL was their new flagship station). Between his high-profile gigs, Hayes was heard on KBEC-1390 AM in Waxahachie and KDBN-93.3 “The Bone.” **
In 1991, the Press Club of Dallas awarded Jonathan Hayes and Jody Dean a Katy Award for Freedom Song. In 2013, Judge was an inductee to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He retired from radio in December 2014.
The desire to act was still with him and he had a short film career during which he appeared in 3 episodes of the original “Walker, Texas Ranger”, one made for TV movie, and three theatrical films. He also did voice-over work in commercials and industrial narrations. He even tried his hand at stand-up comedy, but that never came to fruition.
All who knew him will always remember his laugh, but there is always a story behind the laughter. Judge had a tough childhood. According to him, by today’s standards, his mom would have been jailed for child abuse.
Due to his losses at home and the images of Vietnam burned in his brain, he had problems with drugs for several years. When he realized he had a serious problem, he went to a very unlikely source for assistance, Ron Chapman. Ron saw that Judge got the treatment he needed. As far as we know Ron never mentioned this to anyone and Judge never took drugs again.
After several failed relationships, Judge and Jeanie got together in 1990. They had been friends for years, and when she needed someone, Judge was there for her. Friends became lovers and they remained together for 31 years until his death. They understood neither of them was perfect. They understood people made mistakes, And, most (and best) of all, they understood each other.
Judge had an outward appearance of a macho man riding his Harley, but underneath he was a soft-hearted individual. At times, the man who was unable to help himself, counseled many others. He loved dogs, There was always dogs in his home. He loaned money to others, knowing they would probably never pay him back. He always volunteered for benefits assisting veterans and other causes dear to his heart. If you needed him, just call, and he would do his best to assist in any way he could, never expecting anything in return.
Despite of everything, Judge was a happy individual. He loved riding his Harley, he loved camping and he loved to party. He was the life of the party, even when there wasn’t a party. He liked to make others laugh, he loved to tell stories, he loved life. He would always say don’t focus on the negative, focus on the positive. If you throw negativity in the wind, it comes back to bite you. He gave the best hugs in the world. His hugs were like being wrapped in a warm blanket. And when he loved you, he loved you.
Somewhere along the line, he lost his faith in God. He considered himself agnostic. In the last year, as his health deteriorated, this changed. He found himself praying and he started forgiving. He forgave his mom.
Judge was preceded in death by several family members. His brother Butch was murdered in California shortly after Judge arrived home from the war. The man he admired most, his dad, died at the age of 54. His mom died at the age of 48. His only child, Mary Beth, died at 21 when a blood clot in her leg traveled to her brain while buying a loaf of bread, and his step-grandson, Jonathan Parish, died at the age 30.
He is survived by his wife Jeanie Francis-Hayes, his sister, Sister Mary Magdalene, his stepson, Johnny Staton, step-grandsons, Damien Staton, Jacob Staton, Jesse Staton, six great grandchildren, and his fur babies, Roger, Dottie, Lucy, and Pete.
Around 2012, a clinical drug trial cured Judge of hepatitis C. In 2018, on March 4th at 7:08 am, he told his wife Jeanie he was not feeling well, and he was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with liver cancer. Procedures were done along with chemo to keep the liver cancer from progressing. The smaller tumors dissipated, but the tumor in the portal vein was still a major concern. He was taking Immunotherapy at the time of his death.
On March 13, 2021, he became ill and had to be taken to the hospital. A GI endoscopy the next day found esophageal varices which can develop when someone has serious liver disease. The doctors were unable to stop the internal bleeding due to a massive rupture.
He never woke up from the procedure, and he did not suffer. He died peacefully at 3:15 am on December 15, 2021.
His voice, his smile, his laughter, and his hugs will be missed.