Born the youngest of five children to Byron and Betty Hay on August 15, 1949, Dick was a lifelong Bakersfield resident.
He graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1967 and went on to study at Bakersfield College and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In 1972, Dick partnered with his older brother Dan to start what would become Hay Brothers.
They had six head of sheep that were sold to hospitals for medical research and a small farming outfit growing grain and rice in Buttonwillow. From those modest beginnings grew their home base of operations called the
Meadowbrook Ranch. Over the next 50 years those six head of sheep built a business and partnership that spanned five counties in Central and Northern California and today includes commercial sheep and cattle operations, along with a farm growing cotton, hay and almonds.
In 1977 Dick started dating the love of his life, Debbie Douglas of Caliente, Calif.
They married in 1980, working side by side building their cattle business in Kern County. They shared a love of cooking; backcountry packing; and raising good horses, quality cattle and nice ranch dogs. Together they went on to raise four children in a traditional ranch setting as well as mentoring a number of other young people.
In addition to being a rancher and family man, Dick enjoyed bird hunting in the U.S. and Canada, rarely missing a dove opener at the Meadowbrook — as well as his annual fishing trip to Mexico.
He was a collector and admirer of double-barrel shotguns and fine silver bits and spurs as well as handcrafted rawhide work.
Dick is survived by his love of forty-three years, Debbie Hay of Bakersfield; his children, Allie (Dugan) Whisler of Independence, Calif.; Ben (Emily) Hay of Arvin, Calif.; MIllie (Miles) McCleary of Lodge Grass, Mont. and Nick (Alex) Hay of Tehachapi, Calif.; grandchildren Evelyn and Charlie Thornburgh, Stella and Hugh Whisler, Thomas and Suzanne Hay, Maisie McCleary, Sawyer and Sullivan Hay; favorite niece, Josette Binns; older sibling, Lynn Rudy of Jenner, Calif.; brothers Tim and Dan Hay of Bakersfield; sister Kate Hunter of Tehachapi, Calif.; and many dear and beloved nieces, nephews, family and friends who also mourn the loss of a great man.
A private burial will be held in Union Cemetery.
For information regarding the celebration honoring Dick’s life and legacy, please contact an immediate family member. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Dick’s name to the Kern County Cattlewomen’s Scholarship Fund; P.O. Box 81436; Bakersfield, CA 93380.