Anthony John “Tony” Hayes, 65, of Boone went to be with the Lord, whom he loved, on July 2 of the year 2020. Tony was born in Wilkes County to John Hayes and Ena Murrell Hayes.

He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Sandra Miller Hayes of Boone; two sons, Christopher Noel Hayes of Summerville, S.C, and Joshua Anthony Hayes of Boone; and a daughter, Cassandra Hayes Vincent and husband, Matthew, of Boone. Tony enjoyed his five grandchildren, Jordon Hayes, Dylan Hayes, Adeline Hayes, Dean Vincent and Millicent Hayes. He was looking forward to welcoming his sixth grandchild, Nash Vincent. Also surviving are his brother, Richard Hayes of the Brushy Mountain community; his stepmother, Ila Dean Hayes; his step-siblings, Sandy Sheppard, Daniel Vickers and wife, Kristy, Missy Mayberry, and husband, Sam, and Robert Vickers, all of North Wilkesboro; and his brother-in-law, Eric Brown of Columbia, S.C.

He was preceded in death by his parents and sisters, Tina Hayes of the home and Heather Brown of Columbia, S.C., as well as a stepbrother, Christopher Church of North Wilkesboro.

Tony’s chosen career path was one of nature, working in the medicinal herbal field, including roots, barks and leaves. He started out as a teenager working for Arthur Lowe Fur & Herb Company of North Wilkesboro. In 1981, he went to work for Wilcox Natural Products in Boone. In 2000, he started his own company and became president of Ridge Runner Trading Co. of Boone. He was a successful and well-respected member of the medicinal herbal products industry. Recently, he was honored to be interviewed by the Smithsonian Institute (Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) in Washington, D.C., to record his knowledge and extensive experience of ginseng for future generations.

Tony had many passions and hobbies throughout his life. Some of his favorite hobbies included boating and fishing, which he indulged regularly. He had a great love of the outdoors, mountains, forests and waterways. He loved geography and was often introduced as a “walking, talking map of Southern Appalachia.” Gardening, landscaping and wild-crafting were among his passions. Tony was an expert cook and grill master. He loved music, particularly the drums, which he played with gusto. He was a devoted and beloved member of the 12-step recovery community, through which he enjoyed being of service to others.

He loved and was loved by his Lord, his family, friends and his community. He will be greatly missed.

A memorial service to honor Tony and celebrate his life will be held sometime in the upcoming months.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Daniel Boone Native Botanical Gardens, P.O. Box 1705, Boone, N.C. 28607.

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