Hays' Place in Reston

Hays' Place in Reston

Couple named to "Best of Reston."

In the late 1960s, after Reston founder Robert E. Simon left and the Gulf Oil Company took over management of the community, residents worried that a multi-national corporation would ignore the ideals on which Reston was built.

To represent the residents' concerns to Gulf Oil, Dick Hays created the Reston Community Association (now the Reston Citizens Association) in 1967 and went head-to-head with the corporate Goliath.

"I went before the board of directors and told them what our vision of Reston was and that they ought to keep it," Dick Hays said. "And they did."

That service to the community is one of many accomplishments he, along with his wife Janet, has brought to the Reston community over the past four decades. Last week, Dick and Janet Hays were named recipients of the 13th annual Best of Reston awards.

THE HAYS' MOVED to Reston in 1966 after reading about "new towns" in Time Magazine, becoming one of the first families to settle in the newly-forming community.

"There was so much spirit in the old days," said Janet Hays, a former Library of Congress employee. "We were on this exciting adventure. We were out in the middle of nowhere."

Because there was practically nothing in Reston, the early residents had to create the community infrastructure today's residents take for granted. Many of these institutions still exist today. For instance, in 1967 Janet Hays co-created and published the first "A Place Called Reston" telephone directory.

Community service has always been a way of life for the Hays family. Among their other contributions to Reston are: founding the now annual Reston Festival, organizing the local chapter of the League of Women Voters, serving on the PTA at Lake Anne Elementary School, and working on the Lake Anne Nursery Kindergarten (LANK) board of directors.

"We believe that if you live in a community, you should participate in it," said Dick Hays, a former Department of Education official.

TODAY, THE HAYS' are both retired, but Janet Hays is active in Friendly Instant Sympathetic Help (FISH), which runs the Bargain Loft thrift store in Herndon. Dick Hays spends much of his time volunteering with the Friends of the W&OD Trail, which maintains the 47-mile hiking and biking trail.

Avid bicyclists, the Hays' co-founded the Reston Bicycle Club in 1982 to organize cycling trips and promote safety.

"We rode a lot in Reston and started seeing others on bikes, so we figured it was just time," Janet Hays said. "It was less congested back then. You could ride right down the roads."

Reston has changed dramatically since the Hays' moved here 40 years ago, they said. Back then, community service was considered a civic duty in Reston, being one of the core principles on which Simon built the community.

"The spirit has become diluted," Dick Hays said. "People are here for different reasons today. A lot of the people who moved here in the early days bought into the philosophy."