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Alumni Profile - Elvin Haynes 1954

Elvin and Shirley Wedding of Elvin and Shirley Haynes Haynes profile Elvin retired

Marion Elvin Haynes '54 is part of the American Dream. As one of eight children, Haynes did not have it easy growing up in the projects of Glendale with his mother and five younger siblings. His father was an inmate at Arizona State Prison at Florence. He graduated from Glendale Union High School in May 1952 and, to make ends meet, worked at the Safeway store in Glendale.  With his life's experience, college was not in his plans.

Luckily, his counselor, Mr. Alvin Levin, changed those plans.  Haynes had done well in high school and his counselor insisted that he go to college.  The only major challenge was to figure out how to pay for it.  They explored several options and settled on a plan to live at home, continue working at Safeway, and commute to Phoenix College (PC).  With his plan in place, Haynes enrolled at PC in September 1952.

Many of his high school classmates were also attending Phoenix College so he felt right at home from the beginning. In October 1952 he was introduced to Shirley Ann York.  She was a senior at West High.  Shirley was 16 and he was 17.  They quickly became a couple and enjoyed attending and participating in student activities at Phoenix College.  Shirley also worked after school and neither of them had a telephone.  This made the logistics of getting together a challenge.  But, they worked it out!

Haynes entered Phoenix College as a science major.  At the end of the first semester, his chemistry professor, Mr. Phelps, invited him to work as a lab assistant.  The job didn't pay well, so he chose to stay with Safeway.  At this point, Haynes changed his major to business administration.  Students were required to take a physical education activity each semester so Haynes chose folk dancing with Dr. Mousseau and Mr. Riggs.  It helped improve his dancing skills and he became active in a square dance club later in life. 

Haynes also pledged the Phi Alpha Chi Fraternity on campus.  Although it was difficult to be fully active due to his work schedule, he engaged in as many activates and events as possible - often arriving late.  Haynes and Shirley particularly enjoyed dancing.  The jitterbug, fox trot, and waltz were popular and they could hold their own on the dance floor.  They even took third place in a waltz competition!  The most memorable dance they attended was sponsored by the Tau Omega Fraternity.  They arranged for Ralph Flannigan and his "Number One Band in the Land" to play for a formal ball in January 1953 at the Shrine Auditorium. It was a magical evening that remains in Haynes' memory as a highlight experience.

With a full class load, work, and limited social activities, Haynes had a very busy life.  He often went with Shirley and her family on Sunday outings.  While they were having fun, he did homework.  When he finished his homework, he joined them.  Haynes graduated in June 1954 with an associate arts degree with academic honors. 

"My two years at Phoenix College were both fulfilling and rewarding.  And, they showed me the way forward in my life." - Elvin Marion Haynes      

Shirley and Haynes married two days after he graduated and they moved into student housing at Arizona State University.  He arranged a transfer with Safeway to its Tempe store and Shirley became secretary to the Academic Vice President.  Their goal was simple - complete a bachelor's degree and get on with their lives. He had earned 65 credits at Phoenix College which transferred and applied toward his bachelor's degree.

Haynes graduated from Arizona State in May 1956.  During his final semester, Shell Oil Company recruited him for a position in its personnel department in Los Angeles.  As soon as he graduated, they packed their belongings into a U-Haul trailer and set out in their '52 Chevy on a journey that would last the rest of their lives.  Haynes did well with Shell and ended up in its head office.  He retired in 1991 as a head office department manager after 35 years of service.

Today, at age 85, Haynes has been retired 28 years.  He enjoys international travel, singing with an a capella men's chorus, writing, researching his ancestors, and community service.

"Two things made a difference in choosing the path that took me from the project in Glendale to a retired Shell Oil Company executive.  One was the insistence by my high school counselor that I pursue a college degree.  The other was the availability of Phoenix College.  The way Phoenix College coordinated its curriculum with Arizona State gave me an excellent start toward a bachelor's degree.  And, the bachelor's degree was the key that opened the door to the American dream." - Elvin Marion Haynes  

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