Wisconsin Rapids Library historian dies at 91
Hayward wrote centennial chronicle, considered one of the best by local leaders

By Mark Scarborough
Tribune Staff Writer

From the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune
Mon 24-Apr-2000

Alice McCaul Hayward - whose detail-rich, engaging chronicle of McMillan Memorial Library remains the standard history of one of the community's oldest, bedrock cultural institutions - died Easter Sunday at Riverview Hospital.

Born In Tomah on June 20, 1908, she was 91. Hayward, the first married female to teach at Lincoln High School, wrote "Centennial Story, 1890-1990" in time for McMillan's 100th birthday, in 1990.

"The earliest days of censorship were the funniest," Hayward said at the time of her book's publication. "The men bought the books themselves, and then they condemned them and burned them."

Pam Walker, director of the South Wood County Historical Corp. museum, remembered Hayward as a gifted historian who "loved the research end of things, and loved the digging and the questing for knowledge." Hayward was "a true, lifelong learner, and she knew the (historical) method and she knew her resources," Walker added. "She was fond of all the good things in this community, and she was interested in the lives of her friends. When we sat together in Travel Class, she was always so perceptive ... She stimulated that quality in others."

Hayward also wrote "The Travel Class Story," a 1998 centennial history of this Wisconsin Rapids study group. She was a Travel Class member. She was also the author of a 1954 centennial history of Tomah.

Teaching senior honors English at LHS 1958-73, Hayward served as English department chairman from 1959 to 1973. She was a tough teacher, according to her former LHS student Dave Engel, a Rudolph writer and historian who recently interviewed Hayward for a SWCHC project.

"She was a well-known personality at Lincoln High School in the 1960s, loved by many and feared by all," Engel said. "Her nickname was Grendel (the monster from the early 8th Century English epic poem "Beowulf") and she didn't shy away from the connotation. She was articulate and demanding.

Anyone who had her for senior English was well prepared for their first year of college ... She told us we were the worst class she ever had, but I know of a lot of other classes that heard that."

Hayward also served on the board of trustees of the T.B. Scott and McMillan Memorial libraries from 1952 to 1970. These were "critically important years in the history of the institution," leading to construction of the current library building, and Hayward was "very much an active participant in the whole process," according to Ronald McCabe, McMillan's current director.

"Her history of the library is one of the most remarkable library histories I've ever read," McCabe said. "It's so well written and so insightful. It has such wonderful depth and gives tremendous insight into the history, not only of the library, but the entire community ...

"Throughout her life, Alice was one of the very best friends the library had. Even in her last years, when she didn't have the opportunity to use the library as much as she would have liked, she was still contributing ideas on how to improve the institution. She will be very much missed by all of us."

Hayward's library history was praised as "a wonderful distillation of 100 years of our growth and progress" by then McMillan Director Bill Wilson in a Daily Tribune column published April 26, 1990. Her research for the book took two years, with actual writing begun in June 1989, Hayward told Daily Tribune reporter Jamie Marks for a April 30, 1990, profile. Despite a cataract operation, Hayward completed the book's text by November 1989.

"She weaves a colorful history of the library, dominated by the idea that library services should be available to everyone in the county," Marks wrote. "The founders took on a monumental task, and sometimes, the library took two steps forward and one step back ...."

McMillan was "very fortunate to enlist Mrs. Hayward to write its history," Wilson said then. "Mrs. Hayward's long service on the library board and her writing skills made her a natural choice ... We are delighted that she consented to this effort as a gift to the library she loves. 'Centennial Story' is a joy to read because the author cares so deeply about her subject ..."

Hayward was a 1930 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a bachelor's degree in history. Before her 1938 marriage to Dr. Arthur Hayward, a Wisconsin Rapids dentist, she taught history at Baraboo Senior High School. She also had taught history at Hinsdale Township Senior High School and worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota history department.

From 1938 to 1958, she presented book-review programs locally and statewide. First appearing before women's clubs, service organizations and banquets, she eventually was hired to review books for students at Mid-State Technical College.

In 1952, Hayward served as state president of the American Association of University Women, for which she helped develop a radio show on WFHR, Wisconsin Rapids, called "Readers Rally."

© Copyright 1999, The Daily Tribune. All Rights Reserved.