Lousiana Voice is reporting tonight that John Hays, 72, of Ruston, died this morning. His death was the result of complications from a long battle with cancer, Publisher Tom Aswell wrote.
For thirty-seven years, Hays published the Morning Paper, a weekly Ruston based independent tabloid style newspaper that was often the source of news stories no one else had the courage to print, let alone investigate.
In July 2013, Hays ceased publication, due he said to his health issues.
“What the hell is this?! I ain’t printin’ that crap!! It ain’t news when the state republican chairman endorses a republican candidate for governor!!”
So spoke John Hays to me back in the fall of 1979, when as a volunteer with Dave Treen for Governor, I had been tasked with delivering to the Morning Paper office a press release from then GOP State Chair George Despot.
And that’s how a thirty-five year love/hate relationship began between the self-described “Yellow Dog Democrat” Hays and the conservative Republican Walter Abbott. Without question, Hays was one of the most important men I ever knew.
Much of what I have learned about local politics and how it works was taught to me by Hays over those thirty plus years.
I can state with gold-plated certainty that the relatively honest way that most Lincoln Parish governmental bodies conduct themselves is a direct result of those local politicians knowing that Hays was looking over their shoulder.
RIP John, I will miss you.
And thanks for all you taught me.