Kanawha Mental Hygiene Commissioner retiring after 45 years - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Kanawha Mental Hygiene Commissioner retiring after 45 years in post

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Kanawha County Mental Hygiene Commissioner Thomas M. Hayes retired March 1 after 45 years of service in the part-time position.

At his retirement luncheon, Supreme Court Administrative Director Steve Canterbury presented Hayes with a certificate signed by all five sitting Supreme Court Justices.

Canterbury said it takes a special kind of person to handle mental hygiene cases, especially for so many years.

"Think of all the lives you have affected," he said. "You have made a certain kind of peace for those people."

Senior Status Circuit Judge Herman Canady noted that he and Hayes attended law school together more than 50 years ago.

Chief circuit judges appoint attorneys to act as mental hygiene commissioners. The commissioners preside over hearings on involuntary hospitalization, guardianship and conservatorship and issue transport orders for voluntary admission of minors to mental health facilities, upon affidavit.

A native of Clarksburg,  Hayes graduated from Fairmont State College in 1959 and West Virginia University College of Law in 1962. His first job was as a law clerk to then-Kanawha County Circuit Judge Frank Taylor, where he met his wife, Donna, who worked for then-Kanawha County Circuit Judge Robert Smith.

They were known as "The courthouse sweethearts," said Robin Louderback, a Kanawha County Mental Hygiene Commissioner who acted as the master of ceremonies at Hayes' retirement luncheon at the Kanawha County Judicial Building.

He also clerked for then-Supreme Court Justice Charles Haden before entering private practice in Charleston. In 1974 then-Kanawha County Circuit Judge Thomas McHugh appointed him to be a mental hygiene commissioner.

Louderback said Mr. Hayes was the epitome of knowledge and ethics and lent a guiding hand to many lawyers, including herself; he was the first judicial officer she appeared before as a practicing attorney.

Linda Artimez, Director of Mental Hygiene and Treatment Court Services for the Supreme Court Administrative Office, called Hayes "a trusted voice of experience."

Donna Hayes retired in 2000 as the Fiduciary Supervisor for the Kanawha County Commission. They plan to move to Raleigh, North Carolina, to be near children and grandchildren.