Board of Education Member Lida Calvert Hayes
FEBRUARY 7, 2019 – Over the years, Lida Calvert Hayes has worked to serve the members of the community – and young people in particular – in many of ways.
So, for her, running for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education in 2014 was a natural next step.
“I wanted to give my time,” she said. “I have always loved kids. That’s the reason I went for school board.”
Calvert Hayes is now embarking on her second term on the board.
Stan Elrod – a retired high school principal who later served as Athletics Director for High Schools – has known Calvert Hayes and her husband, David Hayes, for a number of years.
For Elrod, Calvert Hayes’ strength is her commitment to students and teachers.
“I am so proud of her because of how she puts the students and teachers as her No. 1 priority,” Elrod said.
Every decision she makes is based on what is best for them, he said.
He also appreciates her deep connections to the community and her willingness to hear what people have to say.
“She is involved,” Elrod said. “She listens.”
Katie Price, who taught for 30 years before retiring a couple of years ago, also made the point that Calvert Hayes always puts students and teachers first.
Asked what she admires about Calvert Hayes, Price’s list included her passion, her devotion, her wisdom, and her willingness to speak the truth.
“She is very bold,” Price said. “We need a person that has that kind of passion and boldness.”
Calvert Hayes combines that with a commonsense approach and depth of knowledge, Price said.
Calvert Hayes is the owner of a painting contracting business that has grown and grown since she and a friend established it in the mid-1980s.
“She has a real heart for her employees,” Price said. “She does behind-the-scenes acts of kindness.”
Her business – along with the many ways in which she has served the community – has given her a deep understanding of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and the people who live here.
Her contributions to the community include serving on the board for the City of Winston-Salem’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise Program, on committees for the Winston-Salem Chamber, and as a commissioner for the Winston-Salem Housing Authority.
She has served on the executive board of the YWCA of Winston-Salem and established a scholarship for young people to attend YWCA summer camps.
“Lida is a hard-working person,” said Vic Johnson, who retired from the school board in 2018 after serving on the board for more than 20 years.
“She gets along very well with people. She tries to do the right things for parents and students. She always tries to help the underdog as much as she can. She is trying to do the right thing.”
And she is as dependable as they come, Johnson said.
“If she says she is going to do something, she will do it.”
Calvert Hayes grew up in Tarrboro.
“It was small. We had one drugstore,” she said. “You knew everybody. It was a community where everybody got along.”
She came to know Winston-Salem when she was quite young. Her father, Joe Calvert, bought tobacco for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. His work regularly took him to tobacco farms and brought him to Winston-Salem. Often, Calvert Hayes would accompany him to farms and on trips to the city.
“That’s where I got my love for Winston-Salem,” she said.
Her mother, who went by the nickname Bill, served as the bookkeeper for a tobacco company. She was an outgoing woman, Calvert Hayes said. “She instilled in me so much. She gave me confidence. She taught me to fly.”She had a younger brother, Reynolds, who died when he was in his 40s.
After graduating from high school, Calvert Hayes went off to college. After stops at Virginia Intermont Junior College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she ended up at East Carolina University.
By the time, she and her first husband separated, she had three children – two boys, Owen and Hayes, and a daughter, Flora. Knowing and liking this area, she brought them to Davie County where she worked as a substitute teacher.
Wanting more, she and her friend Susan May decided to start a painting business, which they kicked off by bidding on a contract to paint light poles on Trade Street in downtown Winston-Salem. The name of the business – S&L Painting and Decorating – came from her friend’s first name and Calvert Hayes’ first name.
“I had never painted a day in my life,” she said. “We didn’t know a thing about painting except it came in colors.”
“We worked out of our car.”
Calvert Hayes joked that they decided to focus on painting than some other aspect of the construction business because it was more feminine than, say, laying concrete.
Although she doesn’t paint, she does know her paint colors. Point to a wall, and she can tell you it’s “harvest gold” or whatever.
After a few months, May decided to take her life in a different direction. Calvert Hayes continued down the contracting path, taking on ever-bigger projects. In the beginning, she just hired painters as needed. Eventually, she decided it was time to have a full-time crew.
Many of the first painters who worked for her lived in Happy Hill Gardens, a public-housing community where most of the residents were African-Americans. Working with them, she learned a lot about other aspects of life in this community.
“They always looked after me, and they knew I was going to look after them,” she said. “My life has been guided from up above. The right things fell in place at the right time.”
Speaking of which, Calvert Hayes met her husband of 30 years – David Hayes – when, looking for a less hazardous sport for her son Owen after he broke his collarbone playing football, she took him to play soccer for a team that, as it happened, Hayes coached.
“I wasn’t looking for anybody,” she said. “It’s like he fell from heaven.”
In Calvert Hayes’s family, Hayes is a family name. She had given it to her son Hayes. Not wanting his name to become Hayes Hayes, she and David Hayes decided that her children would keep the last name Calvert and she would become Calvert Hayes when they married, and he adopted them.
Hayes already had two children. So their blended family came to have five children – several of whom grew up to become or marry doctors.
As she served on boards and commissions and such, Calvert Hayes became increasingly connected to the city.
Eventually, she decided to run for the Winston-Salem City Council. She lost to Jeff MacIntosh, who continues to serve.
“He has done a terrific job,” she said. “I am glad he won.”
She then ran for and was elected to the school board.
As a member of the school board, Calvert Hayes has gotten to know the Rev. Alvin Carlisle, the President of the Winston-Salem Chapter of the NAACP.
“I've known Lida Calvert Hayes for a couple of years now,” Carlisle said.
“She is a very caring person. I feel that her big heart is her special gift. She cares about the well-being of all children.”
“This is what makes her a great school board member – she throws out race, economic status and she sees every child as a young person full of potential that needs to be cultivated. Lida Calvert Hayes’ ability to work with anyone – it's a breath of fresh air.”
“In such divisive times, it is wonderful to have someone who invites everyone to have a seat at the table.”
After Calvert Hayes joined the school board, her company stopped bidding on school system projects so there would be no potential conflicts of interest.
At one point, David Hayes was a chemist for R.J. Reynolds. He later joined S&L Painting. With both of them being so busy, working together gives them to chance to spend time together that they might not otherwise have.
They have nine grandchildren. With the business, the school board and other responsibilities, she doesn’t have a lot of what could be classified as free time. One way she relaxes is by spending time with her family in various ways.
Sometimes that’s keeping an eye out for the deer and other animals that live in the woods behind her house. In the winter she puts out corn for the deer, and the grandchildren have given a name to each of the deer who come up for a bit of corn. You will notice a pattern to the names: Bambi, Dandi.
The woods and waterways behind the family’s home are also home to squirrels, raccoons and even a few otters. The animals bring her much joy. As Calvert Hayes puts it, she feels connected to everything that has fur on it.
She and the family also spend time at the coast when they can. Calvert Hayes loves walking on the beach with her husband, her grandchildren, and her English bulldogs, Herschel and Gurley.
“That’s the best of times,” she said.