The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Chatham Mourns Loss of 'Beacon of Hope' Artist, Mentor to Kids

 Marian Hayes was a member of Slow Roll Chicago. She died Jan. 10 after being struck by a car Jan. 8.
Marian Hayes was a member of Slow Roll Chicago. She died Jan. 10 after being struck by a car Jan. 8.
View Full Caption
Photo by Liz Espoz

ASHBURN — The Chatham community is mourning the loss of a 61-year-old woman described as a neighborhood "beacon of hope" who died after being struck by a car.

Marian Hayes, of the 500 block of East 89th Street, was hit by a driver in the Ashburn community, near the intersection of 87th street and Kedzie on Jan. 8 around 5 p.m.

Hayes was an artist who mentored children and a bike activist. She also had a radio show that aired from Chicago State University.

Darell Surles, 55, was driving westbound on the 3200 block of West 87th street when he heard a noise and came to a stop, according to police. He walked east on 87th street and saw that he had hit a pedestrian, according to police and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Hayes was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center and died two days later from injuries Sunday.

Surles, of Evergreen Park, was charged with a misdemeanor count of driving with a suspended license, the Sun-Times reports. He was also cited for failure to exercise due care to avoid hitting a pedestrian, and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, police said. Surles is scheduled to appear in court March 10.

Eli Washington, chairman of the Chesterfield Community Council, had known Hayes for years. He said she volunteered a lot of her time at Tuley Park, 501 E 90th Pl.,  where she mentored children and got them interested in art.

“She grew up right down the street from me,” he said. “I was just devastated Sunday night when I found out. I had just saw her at the park the Monday before and we chatted for a few minutes.”

Washington doesn’t know where she was going when the tragic incident occurred, but he said it wasn’t uncommon for her to walk. “I have never known her to have a car,” he said. “She walked everywhere.”

Danielle Littman, Cultural Liaison for the Chicago Park District, said "she was a huge player in the arts community at Tuley Park,” she said. “ ... She exuded positivity, grace, and passion in everything she did.”

Hayes was also a member of Slow Roll Chicago, which brings communities together for bike rides. The group’s co-founder, Olatunji Oboi Reed, said Hayes was an active member. She joined last June and was always supportive of their initiatives.

“She was a committed member of the Slow Roll Chicago family,” he said.  “We’re incredibly hurt that she’s no longer with us. She was an amazingly beautiful woman and her energy, her spirit, her passion, it poured out of her.”

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) rode with her when Slow Roll came to Chatham. He called the news of her death “tragic.”

“I was shocked when I heard that she had died,” he said.

He said she was very active in the community.

“She was always around at a lot of events,” he said.

Jahmal Cole, founder of the group My Block, My Hood, My City, said he had just talked to Hayes recently.

“She just messaged me the other day...I just remember her as being a beacon of hope. She was full of energy and compassion. She was everybody’s mother. It was cool to be innovative around her. She supported innovation. She supported my books and presentations at the library.”

Washington said that it’s too early to say if the community will do anything to remember her. There will be a board meeting in a couple of weeks so they’ll decide then.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: