Mayo Hayes O'Donnell
Thursday, January 5, 1978. Monterey Peninsula Herald
Mayo Hayes O’Donnell Dies; Peninsula’s Mrs. History
Mayo Hayes O’Donnell, whose tireless half-century of work to preserve the history of Monterey earned her the title “Mrs. History,” died Wednesday at Driftwood Convalescent Hospital in Monterey after a period of failing health. She was 85.
Mrs. O’Donnell was an historian and a journalist and wrote the column “Peninsula Diary” in The Herald for many years. She belonged to numerous civic clubs, figured prominently in community events and was honored numerous times for her many years of work on the history of Monterey.
She was the widow of William M. O’Donnell, who was the associate publisher of The Herald at the time of his death in 1949. He had also served as managing editor of the newspaper and himself had a distinguished record of community service.
Born in Tulare
Mrs. O’Donnell was born on May 6, 1892, in Tulare and was reared in Tulare County.
She and her husband moved to Monterey in 1925, at which time she began her activities on behalf of the city.
She was credited with saving many historical structures on the Monterey Peninsula from demolition. Her home, Casa Soberanes on Pacific Street in Monterey, was itself an adobe built in 1830. Known as the “House of the Blue Gate,” it was given to the state in 1953 to be retained as an historical landmark following her death.
For many years she served as the unpaid executive secretary of the Monterey History and Art Association and was an important leader and lifetime honorary director of that organization.
Her column was devoted to historical accounts of early California and the significance of Monterey in the early days of the state.
She also wrote a history of old adobes.
In 1965, she was honored in a resolution of the California State Senate, authored by Sen. Fred Farr of Carmel.
It stated in part that she and her husband “showed a deep and abiding interest in the history of Monterey from the time of their settlement there which has continued through years of leadership in the Monterey History and Art Association and the Monterey Foundation.”
In presenting the resolution to her, Farr said, “I can think of no person who has done more to keep alive the old spirit of California than Mayo Hayes O’Donnell.
Woman of the Year
She was honored in 1961 as Woman of the Year by the Monterey-Pacific Grove Quota Club.
“Someday the history will be written of the people who had the foresight to preserve the buildings that make our pueblo what it is – and her name will top the list,” was one of the tributes that night.
The board of the Monterey History and Art Association voted in 1967 to establish a library in recognition of many of her contributions and the library, consisting of historical works on California, is located in the old St. James Episcopal Church building on Van Buren Street in Monterey.
Mrs. O’Donnell was a member of St. James Church. Among the many organizations which she belonged to were the Monterey Museum Board, the California Historical Society, and the Monterey County Historical Society.
She was also past president of the Peninsula Garden Club, an honorary member of Delta Kappa Gamma, a national organization for outstanding women in education, the USO board and was one of the founders of the Casa Abrego Club.
Mrs. O’Donnell also was a member of the Native Daughters of the Golden West.
She received many honors and awards for her work. Organizations which honored her included the California Historical Society for her outstanding contributions to the state’s history, the Monterey City Council, the California Park and Recreation Commission and the Monterey History and Art Association which gave her an antique Spanish sundial for her home in 1967.
She also served as the Grand Marshal of Seaside Independence Day “Parade of Champions” in 1970. A bronze bust of her was donated to the Monterey History and Art Association in 1974.
Mrs. O’Donnell was society editor of the San Jose Mercury-Herald prior to coming to the Monterey Peninsula.
She is survived by two brothers, Austin Hayes of King City and Carol Hayes of San Juan Bautista, and many nephews and nieces.
Private services will be held at St. James Episcopal Church in Monterey with inurnment at the Garden of Memories Memorial Park in Salinas. The family suggests that any contributions in her memory be made to St. James Episcopal Church or to the Mayo Hayes O’Donnell Library.
Paul Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.