Karri Dell Hays was raised on the heart and soul of old Park City and, in turn, gives herself back to the town again and again. Her pilot father fell in love with the area on a ski trip and moved the family here in 1969 when she was 8 years old. “We were one of the first non-mining families to move here,” she explains. “People were a little leary.” Their foundation-less 1880s Park Avenue home once belonged to the silver-mining Ivers family, and Hays and her husband, Jack Walzer, eventually raised their own three children there, too. “Growing up in Park City was magical,” she says. “I wanted to give that to my kids.”
Her childhood memories include going to elementary and high school at the old Marsac and Carl Winters buildings; being an original member of the Park City Ski Team, founded in 1972; spray painting old railroad spikes gold and selling them to tourists (“our gang of ski racers … we were always scheming,” she recalls; “that’s how we’d make money to buy pizza at Red Banjo”); rope swinging into Shadow Lake below Jupiter Peak; climbing around old mine buildings and tunnels; and finding dirty magazines in dilapidated shacks in the old red-light district. “Our parents had no idea what we were doing,” she says. “We were always messing around.” Tragically, one of her three brothers was killed in a car accident at 18 in 1981. The annual Eric Hays Memorial Ski Race is held in his honor.
Insatiably curious and creative, Hays pursues anything she’s passionate about with quiet fervor. She helped found Recycle Utah, was an original member of Citizens Allied For Responsible Growth, and wrote history articles for the Park Record. She was a DJ for KPCW and served on the Summit County Historic Commission, the Park City Planning Commission, and the board of Mountain Town Music. She became a realtor in 2002, guides historic hiking and biking tours for White Pine Touring, and is a democratic delegate and a master gardener. At 35, she decided to take up the fiddle, and with Jack, founded the bluegrass group John Boy’s Mule, and later, country blues band Lash LaRue, which is now a local music fixture. “I want to do everything,” she says with a smile. “That’s how I am.”