Annemarie Hayles

Obituary of Annemarie Kraume Hayles

Annemarie Ilse Kraume Hayles passed away on May 29, 2024, in North Plainfield, New Jersey. She was 97 years old. Annemarie was born in Leipzig, Germany on October 2, 1926, to Paul Hugo Kraume and Anna Freymüth Kraume. She was christened at Saint Nicholas Church in Leipzig, which rose to fame in 1989 when it became the center of a peaceful revolt against communist rule. At six, her family moved to Weimar, Germany. Annemarie had a charmed and storied childhood in Weimar and cherished those memories throughout her life. She had a documentary-like recollection and regularly shared stories of her homeland with her children and grandchildren. They are now blessed to have a vivid picture of life as a child in pre-war Germany: carriage rides to relatives, learning to read on the polar bear rug in her grandmother’s library, plucking her zuckertüte from a tree in the schoolyard, and lessons at the Pestalozzi school, which sought to develop students’ powers of the head, heart, and hands.


In 1937, Annemarie kissed her beloved grandmother goodbye and sailed on the SS Bremen to New York harbor with her mother and two older sisters. There, they reunited with her father and adored uncle, Werner, who had been awaiting them since emigrating in 1933 to set up a business in the U.S., when the politics in Germany began darkening. Settling in Maplewood, New Jersey, Annemarie faced the challenge of assimilating and learning a new language in a country that was at war with Germany – yet she excelled in school, skipped a grade, and made lifelong friendships. She was editor of her high school yearbook, wrote light-hearted and humorous chronicles of student life, knitted garments during classes for the war effort, and was a violinist in the youth symphony.


Annemarie’s family became restaurateurs in thriving Newark and Orange, and eventually opened Werner’s Lake Edge in Watchung. The family purchased “The Farm” in Warren shortly afterward, its rolling meadows, pond and woods now open to the public as a part of the Somerset County Park system. One day, sent on a mission for Lake Edge, Annemarie enlisted the help of her friend, Carol, who agreed to come along on the condition that Annemarie join her at a horseshow later that day. There, she was introduced to a handsome Irish horseman, Bernard George Hayles. They married in 1947 and had three daughters.


Nothing Annemarie did was ordinary. She was a lifelong and accomplished artist, writer, and musician; limitless in her capacity for creating. She relished her days working for Schultz and Behrle Interior Decorators and designing costumes for the Garden State Ballet Company. Her bespoke Christmas cards are now treasures, along with the memories of her brilliant, custom-made Halloween costumes. Every gift she gave was carefully curated for the recipient, loaded with sentiment and nuance, and joyfully given. She was a lover of reading and research. In her writer’s group, which formed at Rutgers University in 1978 and runs to this day, she made deep and lasting friendships that sustained her the rest of her life. She had an eclectic range of taste in music, from the Ink Spots – a featured band at the family’s first restaurant – to Harry Belafonte, Piet Veerman, classical, and rock n ’roll. She always supported her daughter’s love of the Rolling Stones, reminding her to blow a kiss to the band before a concert. She was also a superfan of Rafael Nadal, enthusiastically following his career up until her passing. Annemarie served as officiant at her granddaughter Catherine’s wedding in December 2021, where she performed a deeply stirring ceremony. She proclaimed the occasion to be one of the greatest honors of her life. As a practitioner of uncommon enthusiasm, Annemarie never said no to a party or celebration, where she often became the center of attention.


Above all, Annemarie was an expert observer and listener, taking everything in. She was interested and invested in every aspect of her children’s and grandchildren’s lives and was an icon to their friends. A true diplomat, she welcomed everyone into her life without judgment. In the sixties, her home was a safe-haven for Vietnam War dissenters and war-bound young men alike. She never met a dentist or doctor she didn’t think highly of. As a super-ager, Annemarie never slowed down and made it her mission to remain relevant and informed. She had an uncanny ability to remember the smallest detail about a person and revisit it in conversation to the surprise of everyone. She was a self-proclaimed chatterbox, but no one ever tired of her stories. The many skills and passions “Omie” passed on to her children and grandchildren will be her greatest legacy. She has left them well-equipped to be devoted, open-minded, curious, sentimental, empathic, creative makers-of-magic, and loving citizens of the world.


Annemarie was predeceased by her husband, Bernard and her daughter, Suzanne. She is survived by her daughters, Heidi Topping and Bettina Giordano (Sal), five grandchildren, Emilia Giordano, Catherine Jordan (Don), Olivia Kean (Henry), Jaye Topping, and Jeffrey Topping, and six great-grandchildren.


 Annemarie and her son-in-law, Sal, had an abiding friendship that, in over 48 years, never wavered. She was grateful to him for his acts of kindness, good humor, and meaningful conversation.


Annemarie’s family would like to thank Dr. Martin Pontecorvo for his many years of care, sound advice and easily established rapport.

A memorial service will be planned for the fall at “The Farm” - the date to be announced.


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