A long life of generosity

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It would take an entire newspaper to list all of the worthy causes to which Miriam Cannon Hayes devoted her time and textile fortune and the individuals she helped along the way. Suffice to say that throughout her life, she was a generous and tireless advocate for education, health care, the arts and many other interests that have greatly benefitted this region and the state as a whole.
Hayes, the daughter of Cannon Mills magnate Charles A. Cannon and the mother of Rep. Robin Hayes, died last weekend at age 91. As Charles and Ruth Cannon’s last surviving child, she kept alive the family legacy of philanthropy even as the founding business enterprise went through various upheavals and ownership changes that culminated in the razing of the once-bustling Kannapolis complex to make way for a biotech center.
As president of the non-profit Cannon Foundation for more than 20 years and as an individual philanthropist, Miriam Cannon Hayes left her mark in many areas, from funding projects at Catawba College, UNC-Charlotte, Appalachian State and other colleges to supporting the North Carolina Symphony to nurturing development of Carolinas Medical Center-Northeast. Her many accolades included Catawba College’s Adrian L. Shuford Jr. Award for Distinguished Service (1992) and the 2004 Philanthropist of the Year award from the Charlotte Association of Fundraising Professionals.
In her business acumen, her civic contributions and her belief that wealth should be used to help improve and enrich the lives of others, Miriam Cannon Hayes was cut from the same cloth as her father. Although the textile era he symbolized has faded, her good works are a vivid reminder that the Cannon family legacy lives on.