A photo of Joseph E. “Rocky” Hayes, Sr.

Joseph E. “Rocky” Hayes, Sr.

Born December 16, 1934

Joseph E. Hayes, Sr., known fondly as Rocky and Santa Claus, age 80, of New Castle, DE, passed away peacefully at home while surrounded by his family on Sunday, June 28, 2015.

A lifelong Delawarean, Rocky was born in Wilmington on December 16, 1934, and was a son of the late Joseph Francis and Lucy Hayes. He proudly served his country as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Possessing a keen eye for photography, he began his career at Delmar Photography and then became the sole proprieter of Rocky’s Photography, which he operated for a number of years. He would later accept a position as a security officer at the Governor Bacon Health Center, retiring after years of dedicated service.

Active in his community, Rocky served as a scout master with Boy Scouts of America and as an umpire for Suburban Little League. He delighted many children over the past 30 years by playing Santa Claus for a number of local department stores and by making appearances at various charity events, arriving by way of motorcycle. Rocky sponsored, managed and played on various men’s softball teams throughout New Castle County. In his leisure time, he enjoyed model railroading and visiting the Strasburg Railroad. Rocky was a devoted family man and adored spending time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his daughter, Joanna Simpers; sister, Betty Boan;and a granddaughter, Angel Simpers. Rocky is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Dolly (Armes) Hayes; children, Janie Dunfee (Wayne) of Bear, Joseph E. Hayes, Jr. (Jeanette) of New Castle and James Hayes (Janice) of New Castle; brother, Charles Hayes of Smyrna and twin brother, Bob Hayes of Elkton, MD; sister, Theresa George of Wilmington; 9 grandchildren, Jason, Derrick, Jessica, Lauren, Andrew, Joseph, Patrick, Nicole and Ashleen; and 9 great grandchildren, Amanda, Braeden, Anthony, Talon, Ronan, Alyssa, Elizabeth, Mackenzie and Bryson.

The family extends a special thank you to Rocky’s sister-in-law and loyal caregiver, Lola Debbrecht.

A visitation for family and friends will be held from 5 pm until 8 pm on Thursday evening, July 2, 2015 at the Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 1000 N. DuPont Parkway, New Castle, DE. A funeral service will be held at 10 am on Friday morning, July 3, 2015, at the funeral home. Interment with military honors will be held at 11 am on Monday morning, July 6, 2015 in the chapel of the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 2465 Chesapeake City Road, Bear, DE.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, 18251 Quantico Gateway Drive, Triangle, VA 22172.

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12 Condolences for Joseph E. “Rocky” Hayes, Sr.

  • Dolly and family…..you know how special and important you and rocky are to us. He will be greatly missed by a lot of people…..Santa was unique…love you lots.,.we need a trip to I Hop soon

  • So sorry for your loss. Rocky will be greatly missed. He was a great guy, always looked out for us kids playing on our street. Never hesitate to yell at somebody speeding down our road or even yell at us kids (playfully) to “Get out the street!”. Never denined any of us kids to come see him develope any his pictures in the basement. Love taking our pictures and sharing them with the neighborhood. Even dressing up as Santa Claus for the younger kids during the holidays. Such a great man we all adored and will miss.

  • Jane my heart goes out to you, but I can only imagine all the dear people up in Heaven that your Dad will make smile and laugh. He was a sweet man, that I will always remember.

  • Joe was truly a one of a kind person and friend. He will be missed deeply. My thoughts and prayers are will Dolly and family.

  • Dunfee family, I am so sorry for your loss….I know you loved him and his absence will be felt. Love you all.

  • Gonna miss you Buddy…we all loved you at Gov. Bacon, and I enjoyed the privledge of working with you for several years. May God welcome you into his arms, and Joanna, your daughter welcome you to Heaven…
    Rita & Andrew

  • Joe was a great guy and security guard at GBHC. He wouldn’t tolerate any funny business and we were all his #1. Joanna and I would go on his rounds with him at night and see deer on the grounds. Sometimes he’d give a pack of cigarettes to someone over in the assisted living section. I loved him so much. Joe you will be welcome with open arms in heaven. I will miss you though until I see you and my buddy “Joanna again, rest in peace, my friend.

  • I love you uncle rocky! You are one of the best man I ever known. Rest easy and say hi to all of our loved ones! We will all be together soon! Xo. Rest easy. You always new how to make anyone smile.. thank you for playing santa clause for all these years! Xo

  • Hi Joe, I am so sorry for your lost. When I first saw the picture I thought it was you. He looks exactly like you when you were my student and on the soccer team. I hope you are doing well. Again, I am deeply sorry for your loss and remember after the storm the sun always shines.

    Barry Townsend

  • To the family of “Rocky” Hayes,

    I used to work with Rocky at Delmar Photo and often through the years one wonders how former co-workers are doing, etc. Rocky was a great help and friend during my time there, he gave me a puppy from one of his litters!!!!!. I do remember he would always speak very fondly of his wife. He will definitely be missed, he had a heart of gold.
    Thinking of you and sending prayers for comfort and peace during this time.
    E. M. Saunders

  • Dear Miss Dolly, Cliff and I are so sorry for your loss of Rocky. He was a great man of many talents. Our prayers and thoughts are with you and the family. God has receive another angel. He will be your angel.May he rest in peace. We love you. Ruthie and Cliff Blackburn

  • Thank you coach for the kind words. I am doing well, we just need to keep an eye on my mom. Also, I am still on the field as a ref.