Longtime local Jim Hayes was known for his silver and gold Aspen leaves that have become a symbol of the community over the past 60 years.
Hayes moved to Aspen in 1949 after serving in the U.S. Calvary in 1937 and the Army Air Force during World War II. He used his GI Bill to attend Trinity University in Texas, and then moved to New York City where he apprenticed and worked for Columbia Jewelry Manufacturing before moving to the Roaring Fork Valley.
In his early years in Aspen, he founded Hayes Silver and Goldsmithing, but spent much of his time working in construction until 1961 when he sold his trucking business to Stutsman-Gerbaz. By the 1980s, Hayes’ Aspen inspired jewelry took off and he worked full time on his art.
Some of Hayes’ first Aspen leaf buckles were made at the Golden Horn restaurant on the corner of Mill and Cooper for Gary Cooper and Stein Erickson, among others in the dawn of Aspen as a ski town after the 1949 FIS races.
Hayes was 92 when he passed away at his home on Dec. 14 with his wife, Mary, by his side. He is survived by his wife, five children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.