Former Sonoma County music teacher, postal carrier Randall Haynes dies at 61
Randall Paul Haynes fit a lot into his life.
He was the Windsor school district’s first music director. He brewed award-winning India pale ale (and a beer he named Lawnmower). He sang competitively in Europe. He umpired the first Sonoma County Crushers baseball game. He booted the mascot from that game. He delivered mail throughout northwest Santa Rosa.
Haynes died Oct. 17 at the Care Meridian facility in Fairfax from injuries he suffered on the job with the U.S. Postal Service in 2004, when he fell and hit his head after being startled by a dog. He was 61.
The cause was complications related to that severe head injury; it left him in a coma for nearly two months and he never fully recovered, said his wife, Wendy Haynes of Santa Rosa.
“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said.
Haynes was born Feb. 10, 1954, at Travis Air Force Base. With his military family, he moved frequently as a child — to states including Arizona, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Virginia, before his family settled in Santa Rosa.
He attended Rincon Valley Middle School in its infancy, and then Montgomery High School, where he played flute, electric guitar and bass.
“Music gave him a place to belong, it gave him his wife,” Wendy Haynes said.
The couple met in 1973 in the Santa Rosa Junior College band, where she, too, was a flautist. In 1976, they toured Europe with the Northern California Chamber Chorale, singing competitively and being feted in Zermatt, Switzerland, in view of the Matterhorn.
They married in 1980, after both graduated from San Francisco State University, he with a bachelor’s degree in music and a teaching credential.
That year Haynes inaugurated the Windsor school district’s music program, as its director. He held that post until the mid-1980s. After teaching briefly at Santa Rosa Middle School, he took up a new career with his wife, selling musical instruments and services for Gottschalks Music Center.
“Then he discovered his true passion,” Wendy Haynes said, after he started coaching Babe Ruth baseball. He discovered a love for the game’s rules.
In 1990, he finished third in his class at the Major League Umpires School in Phoenix, Ariz. From there he began umpiring high school games, then college ball. Then, in 1995, he was chosen as the lead Sonoma County umpire for the new Western Baseball League, home to the Sonoma County Crushers.
“It suited his personality,” Wendy Haynes said. “He could study it in great detail and say, ‘No, we don’t do A, we do B.’”
Haynes was plate umpire for the Crushers’ first game, on May 19, 1995, and after the Abominable Sonoman mascot slapped a “kick me” sign on his back, Haynes tossed him, his wife recalled, causing quite a stir.
Haynes joined the Postal Service in 2000, loving the work and the job, because he got off early and could make it to games. He also started refereeing high school basketball in the winter.
“He would tease the kids on the court,” his wife said. “He would say, ‘I could be your dad and I’m outrunning you, pick it up.’”
His India pale ales won Sonoma County Harvest Fair prizes. He brewed a light beer he named Lawnmower, because, his wife said, “you could drink it all day and keep working at the house.”
“It was quite interesting chasing this guy around with all his passions,” she said.
In the years since his accident, Haynes recovered to the point where he could use a walker when necessary, and could engage in conversation.
“His intellect was completely intact; he could play poker with the best of them,” said Wendy Haynes, who worked to teach him to read music again and attempt the piano.
“As long as it was kind of present and in the moment, he was there,” she said.
But he never recovered anything but very short-term memory. His children remained for him the age they were when his accident occurred, as did the price of gas.
He still loved baseball.
“Absolutely,” Wendy Haynes said. “He’d say, ‘There’s always three teams on the field: the two teams and the umpire.’ That was still with him. I would say, ‘Randy, what was that play?’ and he would say, ‘Strike.’”
Haynes is also survived by his father Ed Haynes, his sister Carola Young and daughter Meghan Haynes, all of Santa Rosa, and his son Kyle Haynes of Petaluma. Services are to be private.
You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jeremyhay