The Life of David Hays
David Hays’ life was difficult, yet his will to survive was his driving force. He escaped Millbrook Reformatory and made his way to Toronto’s Yonge Street; a seedy strip that housed clubs where he could play guitar alongside Ronnie Hawkins and other blues greats that he admired.
Early Life and Education
David Hays was raised in Hartford, Connecticut and an impressive high school athlete. However, after suffering an injury while playing football, David switched his focus to theater.
He began his career as a stage designer, creating sets for Broadway and London productions. He collaborated with renowned directors like Arthur Penn, Garson Kanin, Tyrone Guthrie and Elia Kazan on numerous projects.
He founded the National Theatre of the Deaf, which brought sign language into theaters across America and has become one of the world’s premier acting companies. Their tours have taken them to all 50 states as well as Communist China and South Africa.
David Hays is an award-winning stage designer whose designs have been seen on Broadway, Lincoln Center and Martha Graham ballets as well as thirty ballets by George Balanchine. Additionally, he taught modern drama at Harvard and founded the National Theatre of the Deaf.
He made history as the first American to design for The Old Vic, earning himself a Tony nomination for Drat! The Cat! Additionally, he collaborated with directors such as Arthur Penn, Garson Kanin, Tyrone Guthrie and Elia Kazan on projects.
Achievement and Honors
David Hays boasts an impressive list of accomplishments. He is an award-winning set and lighting designer, best-selling author, and world class sailor.
He has also been recognized for his longtime service as a staff archivist at CU Boulder. Recently, the University Libraries presented him with the Campbell Award in recognition of his exemplary service.
When asked for his career highlights, Hays replied that he is most proud of his contribution to the University Library as a whole. He enjoys working with researchers and knowing that their information will be utilized in their studies, adding another chapter to our institution’s story.
David Hays is a linguist, computer scientist and social scientist renowned for his early work in machine translation and computational linguistics. Additionally, he developed an approach to abstract concepts which had their meaning explained through stories.
His research focused on the evolution of human culture. From 1969 to 1980, he served as professor of linguistics and information and library studies at State University of New York at Buffalo.
His lifelong dedication to caring and giving has seen him work in a variety of fields. Before becoming an attorney and underwriting counsel for a national title insurance company, his experience included abstractor, examiner and escrow officer positions. As an excellent problem solver with a passion for travel and outdoor activities, his interests included exploring new places with family and friends.
David was a tireless worker who believed his hard work would bear fruit. He had an infectious smile and generous spirit, always willing to lend a helping hand. David loved spending time with his family and cooking delicious meals for them – what an example!
He also enjoyed spending time with his chocolate lab, Bear.
He loved entertaining guests and always sought out new cooking techniques. A true friend to all who knew him, he will be greatly missed by those who knew him best.
He owns several real estate properties, such as a 108-acre estate in Westchester County, NY; a 2,700 acre ranch near Chateau, Montana; and a house on Martha’s Vineyard. Furthermore, he co-owns Rahal Letterman Racing – an Indy Racing League team.