Caldwell “Hank” Haynes

By Victoria Register-Freeman
Resident Community News

Friends of Hank Haynes refer to him as one of life’s prospectors because he sifts and pans for the gold of every experience. His sense of humor is well known. Quoting his mother, he says, “I started attending St. Mark’s Episcopal Church nine months before I was born.” (And on several occasions he served as that church’s Senior Warden.)

Delivered by Dr. Palmer at St. Vincent’s in 1941, Haynes’ parents, Chick and Maude, took him to the Apache Avenue home they occupied their entire lives. Later, his two sisters Marge and Jayne joined the family. He began developing his vast network of friends very young.  In fact, he met one of his lifelong friends when he was two only weeks old.

HankHaynes_01“Hazel Harby (Donahoo) was born two weeks after I was and our families bought a double stroller so we could be taken into the Ortega neighborhood together. Years later when I was in high school, a group of us used to water ski off Hazel’s dock before the bell rang at Lee [High School]. We would start at 7:30 and ski until 8:30, then change and run to school. Our friendship spans generations as I am godfather to Hazel’s son Tommy and he is the godfather to my daughter Zoie.”

Before Lee, Haynes went to Ortega Elementary and The Bolles School. “At Ortega, I was a patrol boy. We would stand in formation by the flagpole and then one of us would go and get the principal, Mrs. Neighbors. When she arrived, we would raise the flag and pray the Lord’s Prayer. After we went inside there would be additional prayers over the intercom.

“We were very dedicated patrol boys, but after school we would race to Doc’s drugstore where Carter’s is located now. The draw there were the pinball machines. There were only two machines and so the first two guys to get there got to play. Another thing we did about that same time was fish and try to sell our catch at the Banner food store. We also sailed prams, small sailboats, at the Yacht Club.

“Speaking of machines, when I was younger I had the chance to view ‘The Lone Ranger’ on the only TV in the neighborhood. I had to brush my teeth, and put on pajamas before I walked down to the Commander’s house every Thursday at 7:30 to view the masked man on their 7-inch screen.

“To celebrate Thanksgiving our family always went to my grandmother’s in Cashiers, N.C. We ate in a small restaurant there where turkey was the main item on the menu. I noticed that lobster was also a possibility and ordered that instead of the turkey. It was so good that I continued to have lobster every Thanksgiving after that. I became known as Lobsterman.”

In seventh grade, Haynes travelled across the St. Johns to The Bolles School, but he returned to Lee three years later. At Lee, he reveled in his relative freedom after having been in the more structured military school environment.

“The National Honor Society spokesperson told me that I was indeed a leader, but, unfortunately, I was leading in the wrong direction.”

Hearing this negative evaluation, Haynes reversed his course so successfully that be became senior class vice-president, Hi-Y president, football team manager, baseball player and member of the annual’s Hall of Fame. Although, he could not foretell the future, he remembers admiring Billie Kirby’s 1959 Powder Puff football game feat. She ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. Years later, Haynes and Kirby would connect in San Diego when she was a National Airlines stewardess and he was a Navy officer. They were married in September 1968 and have daughters Leyden and Zoie and five grandchildren.

HankHaynes_02After high school, Haynes went to the University of the South, in Sewanee, TN where he majored in Business and Economics. One extracurricular memory was his wrestling experience. Wrestling was a sport that was totally unfamiliar to him, but he was drafted by a coach. “I remember the first time I walked out on the mat to meet my opponent. I thought this is crazy because I had never seen a formal wrestling match. Yet, I was about to be in one.” Haynes learned rapidly and, at 123 pounds, became an SEC champion who has recently been inducted into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

After graduating from Sewanee, Haynes joined the Navy and decided to see a part of the world he had never seen. “All of my buddies requested the East Coast. I put in for a small new ship on the West Coast and got one. The next thing I knew, I was bound for Viet Nam on a ship that picked up downed pilots and hunted submarines. I was the People to People officer and when we arrived in some foreign ports, I had to find a service project ashore for the crew. We fixed playground equipment in the Philippines and repaired schools damaged by typhoons.”

When his stint in the Navy ended Haynes remained in the Reserves for some time and, after a period of vocational discernment, entered Haynes, Peters and Bond Insurance, a firm that started in the late 1877and is now part of GHG Insurance.

For 45 years he has dedicated himself to community service. His involvement includes being the Senior Warden at the church he attended en utero and serving on numerous boards including Daniel Foundation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Gateway Girl Scouts and St.Vincent’s Medical Center. A member of the Meninak Club of Jacksonville, he was the Chairman of the Players’ Championship in 1993.

HankHaynes_04Cancer has slowed Haynes down only slightly and has tarnished his optimism not at all. Even in the very real recounting of his arduous treatment, he pans for the gold. “My wife has driven me to Mayo at least 110 times and she has slept on the sofa bed every time I had to stay overnight. That is love in action.”

Haynes believes friends and family are the real treasures. “I have been blessed. Lots of the folks I grew up with are still here. We can laugh together, sometimes fish together, and share our stories. What could be better than that?”


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