Rumor Has It
Of love and loss:
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
As if the closure of the Conway Muse were not already difficult enough, the Muse community was dealt another hard blow with the Nov. 5 death of longtime bartender Kelly Hayton after a sudden and swift illness.
Hayton is well-known to the Cascadia Weekly and its readership as the winner of multiple Best of Skagit awards in the Best Bartender category—and she’s no doubt one of the reasons the Muse itself has won far more awards than you’d think possible for a venue in a town of less than 100 people.
I never met Kelly personally, but I learned some things about her because to meet anyone who knew her was to elicit forth a vast list of reasons why she was so special to so many of you. From those of you who loved her—seemingly everyone she ever met—I know that she was personable and kind. I know that she had a smile that could welcome the whole world, and she used it generously to do just that. I know that she was an integral part of what made the Muse really pretty magical. I know that she was completely, totally loved and because of that—and for so many other reasons—losing her is unspeakably sad.
Muse owners Elfa Gisla and Tom Richardson, already dealing with the difficult decision to close their beloved venue, now must contend with the loss of their beloved bartender. In their statement about her death, they referred to Kelly as the “much-loved heart of the Conway Muse.” They went on to say, “She was the kindest, strongest, hardest working soul we have ever known, and she was dearly loved by all who knew her. The Muse staff felt Kelly was both friend and family. Our hearts and thoughts are with Kelly’s family and friends—we share your grief completely…. Rest in peace, Kelly—you will always be loved and remembered.”
But Elfa and Tom were far from the only people who remember Kelly fondly. The outpouring of grief online was instant and profound, and amid the great sadness was deep gratitude among the widespread community of folks whose lives she touched. “Lovely.” “A true beauty with a generous heart.” “Someone who brightened the day of anyone near her.” “A ray of light.” “This world needs more people like her.” “What a wonderful light she carried with her.” “The epitome of joy.”
The world can be a difficult and challenging place. We need people like Kelly to light up the dark. But I have a feeling a little piece of her light will live on in each of the many people who loved her.