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John C. Hayden, Barker trustee, former mayor Aug. 24, 1933 -- Sept. 19, 2009

John C. Hayden, a trustee and former mayor of this tiny Niagara County community known for his quixotic attempt to ban trick-or-treating within the village limits, died Saturday in his home. He was 76.

Mr. Hayden was born in Lockport and graduated from Lockport High School and Buffalo State College, where he wrote the score for a student-produced musical comedy.

He continued his studies at Niagara University before serving several years in the Army.

Mr. Hayden taught mathematics at a number of schools in the Niagara Wheatfield School District, retiring in 1988 after 32 years.

He and his family moved to Barker from Pekin in 1962, and he soon became active in village affairs.

Mr. Hayden was deeply involved with the Barker Lions Club, dressing up as Santa Claus and collecting items for the local food pantry.

He served for 16 years as a trustee on the Village Board before becoming mayor in 1997. Mr. Hayden served three terms in that job before stepping down in 2003.

Beginning in 1995 and for several years running, Mr. Hayden proposed a half-serious resolution seeking to ban trick-or-treating because of the crowds of children who invaded the village.

"Where are the kids coming from? Vans come and unload children, and when you get mobs of teens on your porch, it's intimidating," Mr. Hayden told The Buffalo News in a 1998 front-page story.

His anti-Halloween crusade drew publicity, but he never succeeded in barring the costumed beggars from Barker.

Mr. Hayden won re-election to the board as a trustee in 2006 and continued in that position until his death.

He twice unsuccessfully sought another term as mayor, in 2007 and again this March, running for the final time at age 75 as the Elder Party candidate for the job.

Mr. Hayden was known for his skill at the piano and for his artistic abilities.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, the former Marilyn "Lynn" Watkins; a son, John A.; a daughter, Rachel Ramirez; a brother, Richard; and a sister, Karen Hughes.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Faith United Methodist Church, 1449 Quaker Road.

-- Stephen T. Watson

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