Barbara F. Hays

Monday, March 2, 2020
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Barbara F. Hays, 66, of Paradise Valley, Montana, passed away unexpectedly of natural causes at Livingston HealthCare on Feb. 19, 2020, with her loving husband at her side.

Barbara was born Aug. 31, 1953, and grew up in University Park, Maryland, in a home that was filled with music, the arts, laughter, scouting, camping, a rich family life and love. Barbara attended Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, where she was active in theatre, sports (such as they were for women at that time) and instrumental music. After high school, Barbara attended Virginia Tech, majoring in Theatre, where she excelled as an actor, learned the ins and outs of theatre management and found a great group of “Hokie” friends who stayed with her through out her life. 

After graduation, Barbara, worked in management and philanthropic activities in the arts and later moved into the world of advertising serving at several agencies in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was a direct marketing whiz, a master of organization and a mentor to many. Clients included John Deere, OnStar, GM, Whirlpool, Domino’s Pizza and the U.S. Navy Recruiting Command. During her time as Senior Vice President of the Navy account, she even was able to “tail hook” onto and “catapult” off the nuclear carrier USS Teddy Roosevelt at sea in the North Atlantic. She was thrilled!

Barbara met John Heidke through a personal ad she had written in Ann Arbor, Michigan (It was two-way love at first sight), and they were married in April of 1996. She always said that “She got three for the price of one,” speaking of John’s sons, Jake and Andrew, to whom she was a loving parent. During the summer after they married, Barbara and John came to visit friends in Paradise Valley. And, that was it! The beauty of the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains and the Yellowstone River stole her heart. They soon bought property in the Valley. In due time a new home was built, and Barbara and John moved to Montana full time a decade ago. The house was designed for guests, and from April to October every year it was filled with them. She loved her “new” life and still continued her world travels with John, including every continent except Antarctica. A trip to Patagonia was scheduled for March. There were still many places to explore on her bucket list.

For Barbara, family was at the center of life. She loved her stepsons and she never had a bigger smile then when she (Bibi) was with or thinking of the grandchildren. She also had a large circle of friends spread around the world. Barbara gave much and asked for little in return. She was a steward of the community giving of her expertise and time as a volunteer at the Curated Closet, Livingston Food Resource Center (where she served as Board Chair for 18 months), and, most recently, Cougar Friday at Sleeping Giant Middle School. As she had time, she was a master gardener, an accomplished basket weaver and a remarkable photographer. A close friend of Barbara’s recently referred to her as “a life force.” That is so true.

Barbara is survived by her husband, John Heidke; stepsons, Jake of Lone Tree, Colorado and Andrew (Heather) of Durango, Colorado, as well as grandchildren, Max, Harper and William. She is also survived by her mother, Margaret; and brothers, Rick, Jim, and Duncan and their families. She was preceded in death by her father, Richard L. Hays, Sr.

On the morning of her passing, the air was crisp, the sun bright, the snow glistened on Emigrant Peak and a herd of elk grazed just outside the windows. As she and John drank their coffee, she said, “This is pretty good!” As usual, she was right. She has left us great memories. And, she would expect those of us who have known her to do something good for others every day, as she did. Celebrations of her life are being planned in Paradise Valley and Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a later date.

To honor Barbara’s life, donations may be made in her memory to the Livingston HealthCare Foundation at 320 Alpenglow Lane, Livingston, Montana 59047 or

Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory has been entrusted with arrangements. To view the obituary or share condolences, visit


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