Thomas J. Hayes II, a former Grand Island resident who owned and co-owned many businesses in the area, died Sunday in Bethesda Memorial Hospital, Boynton Beach, Fla. He was 79.
Mr. Hayes, of Williamsville and Boynton Beach, was born in the City of Tonawanda, the son of the late Dr. Thomas James and Marion Hayes.
He graduated from Tonawanda High School and Colgate University with a bachelor's degree in economics.
He was captain of his swim team in high school, where he held several swimming records, and swam at Colgate. While serving in the Navy, he also was a member of the Navy Swim Team.
He made national news when he was 8 years old for swimming across the Niagara River from the Ferry Landing at Ferry Street in Buffalo to the Bedell House on Grand Island.
Mr. Hayes started his business career as sales manager of Tondisco Inc., a beer distributor.
He went on to be an owner or co-owner in numerous business ventures, including Pool Town, Cannon International, Buffalo Boat and Motor, the Showboat Restaurant and Helf's Hot Dog Stand along the Niagara River. He retired in the late 1990s as partner from Taylor Hayes Inc., a manufacturer's representative for pool and spa supplies.
Mr. Hayes was a member of Anerald Boat Club of Tonawanda and the Tonawanda Elks Club. He also was a former member of the Buffalo Yacht Club.
Survivors include his life partner of 35 years, Janice Becker and her children, Bernard and Michael Becker, and Michelle Ventress; his former wife, Carole Hayes and their children, Lisa Taylor and Laura Gasser, and Mark and Thomas J. Hayes III; a brother, Peter; and a sister, Mary Ann Hayes.
Memorial services will be Saturday in Islamorada, Fla., and Sept. 2 in Tonawanda at a location to be announced.