LANCASTER, PENN. — Ike Hay, 69, died February 14 at home. He was born to the late Florice Caldwell Hay and Isaac K. Hay Sr on April 28, 1944, in Atlanta, Ga. He is survived by his wife, Teri Hay; two daughters, Mariah Hay of Dallas and Mistral Hay of Brooklyn; and three cousins of Georgia, Sam Hay III, Libby Hay Davis, and Judson Caldwell.
He grew up in Bethesda, Md., and graduated from Walter Johnson High School. He completed two years at Montgomery College in Maryland and graduated from University of Georgia with a BFA and MFA in sculpture.
He served six years in the Army Reserves during Vietnam. After teaching for five years at Purdue University, Ike served in the Artist-in-the-Schools program in Birmingham, Ala., for a year. Ike made Lancaster home when he joined the art department at Millersville University in 1975, teaching there for 30 years. At Millersville, he refined the bronze foundry to industry standards, and led a student group of artists to replicate a life-size Triceratops skull for the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. Ike created site-specific architectural sculpture and his pieces are in Alaska, Alabama, Florida and Oklahoma. In Pennsylvania, his art is in Philadelphia, Reading, Harrisburg, York and Lancaster.
He was a student and scholar of American decorative arts and Napoleonic military history, finding the French influence in classical American furniture. Ike presented papers across the country on his studies. He was an avid collector and guided restoration of many pieces of furniture of the classical period, in addition to Regency lighting and French Napoleonic edged weapons.
Garrison Kinglsey, Yorklyn, Del., said, “Ike Hay: friend, dealer, collector. I opened an antique shop on Pine Street in Philadelphia in 1976 and my first real client was Ike. We were both young, inspired and wildly enthusiastic with Nineteenth Century decorative arts, particularly American classical decorative arts. Over the course of time, Ike became a close friend. We shared information of our searches and finds, possible makers and designers, confiding in one another. Ike was always there for me when I was on the road and saw something I felt was important. His memory was infallible. I would describe a piece that I knew was good, that resonated, and he would connect it to a reference. As his eye and taste matured, Ike’s collecting developed with refinement into true connoisseurship.
“Sometimes he would arrive wearing a Cossack fur hat or a Napoleonic hat, yet remained genuine sans grandeur. He was content with the knowledge of the wonderful history inherent to antiques and wore it with humility. I miss him and our frequent, sometimes daily conversations dearly; the shared linkage to a time not so long ago and far away, of the love and passion of collecting antiques that has all but vanished with today’s technological distractions and less soulful obsessions.”
Charles Clark, Woodbury, Conn., said, “Almost 20 years ago, I had advertised a beautiful French clock in one of the trade papers. On top of the clock was a handsome soldier standing beside a cannon. Shortly after the ad came out, I received a telephone call from a gentleman who identified himself as Ike Hay. He offered to tell me that the soldier depicted on the clock was Eugene de Beauharnais, stepson of Napoleon and that an identical clock was in the museum at Malmaison. After that, Ike’s name would come up as an early collector of classical furniture or as someone who had previously owned some significant piece of furniture.
“It was perhaps a decade later that I would happen to meet Ike as he was leaving a restorer’s shop with a fine Regency lamp in his arms. That began a friendship that was short in time but full in a shared love of classical furniture and Regency lighting. Many phone calls and emails resulted from that chance meeting to discuss deals, trades and discoveries. Ike was always above reproach in his dealings with me.”
Thomas Gordon Smith, Professor of Architecture, Notre Dame, wrote, “The Hay family restored an Eighteenth Century farmhouse, while transforming its interior to urban sophistication. They achieved this contrast with cyma-reversa moldings, articulating panels, framing period prints and hanging objects. Within the armature of the meticulous domicile, Ike and Teri assembled a superb collection of American furniture and decorative arts, circa 1820–1850, as well as Ike’s cousinly armory of French Empire weapons.”
“About two decades of friendship, correspondence and tutelage later, Ike and Teri joined hundreds of enthusiastic patrons at the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to relish the opening of ‘Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinet Maker’ in New York. The curators provided visual and historical evidence of Phyfe’s achievements, including boldly abstracted productions late in his practice reflecting both classical and eclectic genres. In the catalog, the curators thanked Ike for his contributions to their undertaking.”
Ike’s Celebration of Life Service took place at the Groffs Family Funeral Home in Lancaster February 20. Family, friends, artists, former students and fellow antique and Napoleonic connoisseurs traveled from afar to honor Ike, where they participated in the service with brief stories of Ike’s influence in their lives.
Memorial contributions may be made to Johns Hopkins University, Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Fund, Johns Hopkins Medicine, 5200 Eastern Ave., MFL Center Tower, Suite 356, Baltimore, MD 21224; or Millersville University Art Department, Juried Student Show, Sculpture Award, at www.millersville.edu/give/online-forms/gift.php.