Keith and Karen Hayes

Keith Hayes was born in Soda Springs, Idaho on January 11, 1932, and moved to Las Vegas in 1944. He served as Student Body President of Las Vegas High School and graduated in 1950. After graduating from Brigham Young University in 1954, he served in the U.S. Air Force as an officer and pilot. Keith then returned to school after, graduating from law school at the University of Utah in 1960 and was elected District Attorney of Esmeralda County. In 1972, he was elected to the Nevada State Legislature where he was named “Outstanding Freshman Legislator.” He was later appointed District Court Judge in 1974 by Governor Mike O’Callaghan and was elected without opposition in the next election. During this time Keith married Karen Wood who had moved to Las Vegas from her birthplace of Cedar City, Utah. Karen was born on October 16, 1935, she graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1952. Karen also attended Brigham Young University and received her degree in education in 1959.

Keith’s courage in maintaining an active work life in the face of a six year battle with cancer gained him respect nationwide when he presided over the Howard Hughes Will trial in 1977.  During that time he often said, “The first thing is to have a positive mental attitude.” Keith worked until the day he died, November 27, 1979.

When Keith passed away, Karen became the sole head of household for the six Hayes children and carried on the Hayes tradition of courage and commitment to family and community.  She was elected to the Nevada State Assembly in 1975. Karen also worked hard in her new career as an Assemblywoman. In addition to serving on numerous legislative committees, Karen was the second woman in the history of Nevada to serve as Speaker Pro Tempore of the State Assembly. In 1983, Karen was elected to serve as Clark County Commissioner, a position she held until 1995.

Karen was honored as Mother of the Year for the City of Hope in 1977, in 1979, Karen was appointed to the White House Conference on Families by Governor Bob List. Other appointments included alternate to the White House Conference on Women and to the State Job Coordinating Council by Governor Bryan. Besides numerous church related service activities, Karen also served as a Boy Scout Merit Badge counselor, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at University Medical Center, President of the Nevada Association of County Commissioners, and Vice Chair of the Clark County Commission.