Tony Hayes, 1955 - 2020
It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our dear colleague and friend Tony Hayes.
Tony was a producer and marketer of North American wildcrafted herbs for almost 50 years. He began his career in 1973 as an herb buyer for Lowe Fur and Herb of North Wilkesboro, then in 1981 went to work for Wilcox Drug Company in Boone, North Carolina. In 2000 he and his wife Sandy started their own business, Ridge Runner Trading Company.
Tony has taken many leadership roles in the herbal products industry over the years. AHPA is particularly proud of his service as the co-chair of our Non-Timber Forest Products Subcommittee, a position he held since that group was first founded in 2005. We are also grateful for Tony’s ongoing generosity as he and his company have been consistently strong supporters of many of the research projects undertaken by the AHPA ERB Foundation.
Those were Tony’s professional credentials and professional experiences. But for those of us who knew him, it was the root of the man, his gentle nature and his generational and cultural connection to centuries of traditional production of wild plants that will be most remembered.
He was Appalachian born and bred, a man whose deep western North Carolina accent sung the story of his roots. He was a country gentleman, and a digger—someone as comfortable with going into his woods with a burlap bag and a shovel as he was selling locally harvested herbs to the largest companies in the country and meeting with federal regulators to represent his segment of the herb trade.
Tony was a virtual warehouse of knowledge for herbal data, keeping records on things like the quantities and quality of herbs produced in any given year, and he shared that knowledge freely with all of us, making it available just for the asking. He was the person about whom people would say, “Call Tony, he’ll know.” We will all miss him.
|Tony and Josh Hayes with cultivated goldenseal
transplants, April 2019.
Tony is survived by his wife Sandy, his three children, sons Noel and Josh and daughter Casey (Vincent), and five grandchildren, with a sixth on the way. Sandy, Josh and Casey have been involved in the family business for several years and are planning to continue to operate Ridge Runner Trading.
A Celebration of Life will be held in honor of Tony in the coming months.
In lieu of flowers the Hayes family requests donations be made to their local botanical garden, The Daniel Boone Native Gardens of Boone, NC. Memorial donations can be submitted here: https://www.danielboonenativegardens.org/donate.