Ronald H. Bayes, prolific poet and beloved mentor, is dead at 89
Ronald H. Bayes, a prolific poet whose writing earned him accolades and a professor whose decades in the classroom made him a beloved mentor to generations of students, died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes on Saturday, Dec. 11, at Scotia Village in Laurinburg, North Carolina.
A memorial service will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, December 18, 2021 at St David’s Episcopal Church, officiated by Rev. Jeff Krantz. Inurnment will follow in the church columbarium. Due to Covid-19, we still ask that all attendees please wear a mask and practice social distancing when possible.
At the time of his death, he was Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, where he had been a professor and Writer-in-Residence for more than forty years. The author of more than a dozen books of poetry, stories, and criticism, Mr. Bayes was the recipient of numerous honors for his work, including a 1985 Pulitzer Prize nomination for his collection A Beast in View.
Ronald H. Bayes was born on July 19, 1932 in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, and raised by his grandparents on a small farm in nearby Umapine. He earned bachelor and master’s degrees at Eastern Oregon College before being drafted into the Army in 1956. He served for two years in Iceland.
Following his Army duty, he worked for the University of Maryland’s overseas program, teaching in Greenland, Bermuda, and Iceland. He then returned to advanced studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, the University of British Columbia, and at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
He also received an Honorary Doctorate from the Delle Arti in Termi, Italy, and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater in Oregon. In addition, he lived in Japan on three different occasions.
Mr. Bayes joined St. Andrews Presbyterian College, as it was then known, in 1968, and immediately enlivened a community of writers, artists, and scholars. A vortex of artistic activity, he founded the respected literary journal St. Andrews Review; organized the St. Andrews study program at Brunnenburg, the Italian castle home of Mary de Rachewiltz, daughter of the American poet Ezra Pound; and initiated the St. Andrews Press, the oldest continuously operated small college press.
At the same time, Mr. Bayes established and presided over the St. Andrews Writers Forum, a weekly event that attracted such nationally and internationally acclaimed writers and scholars as Robert Creeley, Carolyn Kizer, Wallace Fowlie, Gozo Yoshimasu, Joel Oppenheimer, New Directions publisher James Laughlin, and North Carolina Poet laureate Joseph Bathanti.
His various honors include the 1989 North Carolina Award for Literature as well as a North Carolina Writers Network Award, which now bears his name. But in the eyes of the hundreds of students Mr. Bayes taught and mentored, it was his devotion and unfailing encouragement of them that is his greatest achievement and contribution. In the words of one former student, “His writing classes were life-changing, leading you to find your own voice, and sharpening your ear for the voices of others. What an impact he had!”
His last years were spent with some of the most caring people in Scotland Co, the staff at Scotia Village. He is survived by two sisters, Lorraine Bayes in Washington State and Bonnie Bayes in Oregon.
Ron was an involved part of the St. David’s family and a passionate animal lover. The most suitable tribute to him might be to give a gift in his name to St. David’s Episcopal Church, 506 Azure Court, Laurinburg, NC 28352 or the Scotland Co. Humane Society, 1401 West Blvd., Laurinburg, NC 28352.
Bumgarner Family Funeral Service and Crematorium is assisting the family.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ronald Homer Bayes, please visit our floral store.
St David's Episcopal Church
506 Azure Court, Laurinburg NC 28352
Scotland County Humane Society
1401 West. Blvd., Laurinburg NC 28352