June 14, 1963--July 13, 2019
Mike Hays, known for his larger-than-life presence and ability to make friends wherever he went, died on July 13, 2019. He was brazen in the best way and told hilarious stories--traits that served him well as he lived with cancer.
Born on June 14, 1963 in Oklahoma City, Mike was a graduate of East Central High School and the University of Oklahoma. He worked in corporate sales/marketing, real estate, and a couple of other ventures until he was bitten by the "barbecue bug" in 2005. After that, an office job just wouldn't cut it.
For a decade, traveling to almost every state, Mike gained notoriety and respect on the national barbecue competition circuit as both an award-winning cook and certified judge. Always humbled by the recognition he received and the rowdiest cheerleader for his competitors, Mike won awards too numerous to list. The highlights include two-time Overall Grand Champion at the Jim Beam BBQ Classic and induction into both the Jim Beam BBQ Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma BBQ Hall of Fame. Mike also served on the board of directors and as president for the Kansas City BBQ Society. He cherished the time spent and friendships made among the good-hearted and talented people of the barbecue community.
While he achieved great things in his profession, Mike would say his best accomplishment (and the one he was luckiest to have) was the family and life he built with Christy, his wife of 21 years.
A firm believer in paying it forward, he shared his talents with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, serving as the celebrity chef for their "Recipe to End Hunger" fundraising dinners.
Mike is survived by his wife, Christy; his sons, Andy and Scott; his mother, Shirley Hays; his siblings, Kathleen Hays Hoey, Jim Hays, Mary Hays Youngblood and Sharon Hays Geris; a large extended family; and a host of friends who became family. He was preceded in death by his father, James K. Hays.
The family will host a potluck picnic to honor Mike on September 22 from 1:00 pm-4:00 pm. More details will be shared on social media for family and friends. All are welcome. Many thanks for the gifts of love and support bestowed on Mike and his family during the course of his treatment. Please keep spreading that light and remember him with a smile when you do.