Presbyterian College recently lost a legendary member of its religion faculty with the passing of professor emeritus the Rev. Dr. Lewis Scott “Pete” Hay at age 93.
The Charleston native graduated from PC in 1949 with a degree in mathematics and a minor in Bible and returned home to work in the family gasoline and fuel oil business as first a gas station attendant and later as a payroll clerk.
Feeling the call to ministry, he enrolled at Columbia Theological Seminary, where he served as student body president and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in theology. While studying at Columbia, he met Agnes Scott College student Carol Eloise Jones, whom he married in 1953. The couple moved to New Jersey, where Hay earned his master of theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.
In 1954, Hay discovered his true call to ministry, beginning his long career at PC as an associate professor of religion and Greek. From 1960-61, he attended Emory University as a Danforth Scholar and earned his Ph.D., then returned to PC, where he remained a pillar of the faculty until retirement.
Hay’s tenure at PC earned him numerous accolades, including Professor of the Year. Students dedicated the 1966 PaC SaC in his honor, and, in 1978, he was named the Emma Bailey Cornelson and Rev. George H. Cornelson, D.D. Professor of Christian Religion. He chaired the religion department from 1972-1988, and in 1993, after 38 years of service, he retired and delivered the Class of ’93’s baccalaureate sermon. That same year, the PC Alumni Association presented Hay with the Alumni Gold P Award, the college’s highest alumni honor.
In 2005, in recognition of PC’s 125th anniversary, Hay was named one of the 125 most influential people in the college’s history.
The Hay Religion Award, given by the Department of Religion and Philosophy to the student with the highest grade point average in four semesters of religion or philosophy during their first two years at PC, is presented annually in Hay’s honor.
He was predeceased by his wife, Carol, after 61 years of marriage. They are both survived by their two daughters, Katharine Hay Bradley (John) and Carol Makemie Hay, and one grandchild, Caitlin Kennedy Bradley.
First Presbyterian Church in Clinton will host Hay’s Celebration of Life service at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27.