Friends and colleagues mourn the unexpected death of Celia Ray Hayhoe, a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in family financial management. She was also an associate professor in the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech.

Hayhoe passed away on Friday, March 16, 2012. A wreath in her memory has been placed at the War Memorial Chapel on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus.  

Her colleagues remember her relentless work ethic, her professional achievements, her sense of humor and her kindness to others.

Hayhoe’s research and teaching interests included collaborative efforts in nationwide programming and curriculum development in areas pertaining to financial management and well being. She concentrated on debt management, bankruptcy education, estate planning, retirement and long term financial care planning. She also focused on college students’ use of credit and money.

She leaves behind her daughter, Janice Amanda Hayhoe; and her brother, Roy D. Woolfstead and his family.  Janice is in school, studying neuroscience and music.  Woolfstead is retired, writing his first book.

“My mom took her work very seriously. She truly cared for the people she worked with as well as the people they helped,” said her daughter, Janice. “Her dream was to help others feel safe, and have some security in their lives so they could follow their dreams. She accomplished this everyday of her life. I know her spirit will forever live on in the hearts of those she cared for and taught.” 

“Dr. Hayhoe was recognized as a strong leader and a grass-roots listener who understood the importance of relaying research in such a way that was useful to practitioners,” said Julia Beamish, professor and head of the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management. “She understood the level of need and the most critical issues, and had the academic expertise and knowledge base to change lives through her outreach and Extension responsibilities.”

“She was committed to her work, helping individuals and families across the state pursue and live the American dream,” said Brian Calhoun, associate director of Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Thanks to her work and her service, families have been able to avoid bankruptcy, retain their home, fund higher education for themselves and/or their children, and save to ensure happy futures.”

The prayers and thoughts of the Extension family at Virginia State University are with the Hayhoe family. “May we take comfort in knowing that the work she did lives on, and that she leaves behind those she has touched,” said Franklin Jackson, associate dean for Cooperative Extension. “Those she helped will treasure her work and her memory.”

“I think the defining trait of Celia Hayhoe as an Extension specialist is that she would never refuse anyone, no matter how busy or overcommitted she was,” said Eleanor Schlenker, professor and Extension nutrition specialist. “She was one of those folks who view their daily activities as practice of a profession, not a job that stops at 5 p.m.  She felt it her responsibility to keep abreast of new tax codes, bankruptcy codes, and changing laws relating to personal finance.  She had one of the sharpest minds of anyone I have ever known.”  

On the personal level, “Celia had a wonderful sense of humor and loved a cheerful banter on the issues of the day,” Schlenker said.  “Her home was always open to folks who needed an overnight stay before leaving or on returning to Blacksburg. The only requirement for staying overnight and getting a fine breakfast was you needed to like dogs, as her two dogs were as welcoming to travelers as their mistress.” 

Melissa Chase, consumer food safety program manager in the Department of Food Science and Technology, recalled how Hayhoe helped her during her tenure as a Ph.D. student.

“Funding for my doctorate was eliminated halfway though my program of study. Upon learning of this change, Celia immediately proposed that we co-write a grant proposal with Dr. Barbara O’Neill with Rutgers Cooperative Extension to fund a project with Newspapers in Education titled “What Young Adults Need to Know About Money,” Chase said.

“Celia’s commitment to assist me as a graduate student and mentor was immeasurable throughout this project and beyond.  She provided guidance on how to hone my skills as an Extension professional and has helped shape who I am today.”  

Hayhoe served as the LifeSmarts state coordinator and, most recently, developed the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Financial Education Volunteers Program. This effort was in coordination with Extension’s family financial management leadership team, and AmericaCorp Vista partnership. 

In 2007, Hayhoe received the Distinguished Fellow Award from the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. She served as president and as an executive board member for the association. 

Her other awards include the Dean Don Felker Financial Management Award from the Virginia Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences; a New Achievers Award from the American Association for Family and Consumer Sciences; selection as a Virginia 4-H All Star; an Outreach Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; and three Epsilon Sigma Phi Team awards.

Hayhoe received her bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. She was also a Certified Financial Planner® professional. 

Those in the university community who may wish assistance or desire counseling support may contact:


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