Fred Hayes, the director of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, died Friday at age 58.
The cause of death is unknown, according to a news release, and his body was found in his Heber City home.
“He was alone when he passed,” said Nathan Schwebach, spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources.
Hayes contacted his son about 1 p.m., indicating that he was planning to take a nap, Schwebach added.
“We have lost a dear friend and a passionate and dedicated supporter of recreation in Utah,” Mike Styler, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, wrote in the release. “Fred will be sorely missed. Our immediate concern is for Fred’s family, his wife Serena and their five children.”
Hayes became the division director in 2012. He served as acting director for four months before the appointment, and he vowed to “fight with our dying breath” to keep every park open, according to a 2012 Salt Lake Tribune article about the promotion.
He started in the parks department in 1982, as a seasonal ranger aide at Starvation State Park in Duchesne, where he was born and raised. Before joining the parks field, he taught biology, math and health in public schools.
Hayes’ motto, “more people having more fun in more parks more often,” was a “driving force” for the division, according to the release.
“I’ve never known anyone so passionate about their job,” Schewabach said.