Swarthmore Friends Meeting  of the Religious Society of Friends









Memorial Minute Robert Gough Hayden


Robert Gough Hayden, Swarthmore Meeting member, died February 1, 2012, at the age of 88-years-old.  Bob was born November 18, 1923, in Philadelphia, the only child of George Gough Hayden and Grace Hanna (Barnes) Hayden.

He met Nancy Roberts Smith while they were both attending Swarthmore College. His daughter recounts, “He loved to say that he knew she was the one for him the first time he saw her walk across the campus.” Robert and Nancy married under the care of the Meeting July 20, 1946, after he returned from serving as U.S. Naval Lieutenant Navy JG in China during World War II. They lived 58 years in Swarthmore before retiring to White Horse Village.

In 1948 Bob earned an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, and in 1951 a CPA from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He worked in the financial industry and was a model for others in his ethical Quaker ways.  He served many, many years on Swarthmore Meeting’s Budget and Finance Committee, always with proper stewardship to Meeting’s budget. He was unassuming, seemingly staying in the background; but, he saw to the Meeting’s financial well-being with constancy, diligence, forbearance, and level-headedness.  As Meeting Treasurer he was instrumental in the creation and presentation of the Meeting’s budget where he showed clarity in supporting the Meeting’s social action programs. He was also Treasurer of the Friends Fiduciary Corporation.  After a long day at the Meeting’s annual rummage sales, he would stay even later counting the proceeds. We are blessed that we had Bob Hayden to support us for so many years.

Family gatherings were paramount for him-- roasting the Christmas turkey, hiding the Easter jellybeans, and going on family vacations to Buck Hill Falls, Jamaica, Ocean City, and Europe. He showed love for his family every single day….Even when he was sick, when a family member called and asked how he was, he would say, “I’m better now that I’m talking with you.”

He had a life-long passion for golf. His family jokes that golf became “the family game” because Nancy was better at tennis than Bob. He was thrilled to watch his children and grandchildren develop a love for the game.

Phrases that come up again and again in describing Bob are: his optimism; his accepting everyone; and his having a positive outlook.  He respected women’s intelligence, both the female associates in the financial world, and women within the Meeting community. During the civil rights movement, he was distraught seeing the maltreatment of Black people.  His children remember him teaching that all people should be respected equally.

He believed we all carry an Inner Light…and now that he is gone, we carry his Inner Light and his Spirit. One family member quoted William Penn, “Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still.”

In addition to Nancy, his wife of 65-years, he is survived by four daughters, Anne Peters (Frederick C.) of Rosemont; Joan Taylor (Michael) of Norristown; Patricia Lawrence (W. Patrick) of Newtown ; and Barbara Lewis (David W.) of Doylestown; a son, Robert Hayden Jr. (Carolyn Morgan) of Swarthmore; 14 grandchildren and five great-granddaughters. 

A standing-room-only Memorial Service was held on Sunday, February 19, 2012, at White Horse Village.  In lieu of flowers, the family asked the donations be made to Swarthmore Friends Meeting.