Ayres (born in Iowa in 1890) acted in stock theatre and silent films (The Uphill Path, 1918), and was leading man at the Castle Square Theatre in Boston, the Majestic in Los Angeles, and for three years at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco. In June 1930, he became the director of speaking broadcasting at radio station KYA in San Francisco. Ayres, 40, specialized in delivering inspirational messages to the downtrodden, discouraged, and shut-in in daily 15 minute "chatalogues" in the morning and on Friday evenings in a segment of dramatic sketches titled "The Voice and the Harp."
On the morning of September 5, 1930, Ayres arrived at KYA to prepare his morning message prophetically titled "It Can Be Done." After concluding his 15 minute show with a reading of Edgar A. Guest's inspirational poem "How do You Tackle Your Work," Ayres drove to the garage of his home at 655 Powell Street and shot himself in the head. His Chinese houseboy, hearing the car's engine running and noticing exhaust fumes issuing from the closed garage, investigated and found his employer dead on the car's front seat. Near the hand that still clasped a .38-caliber revolver was found a note to his third wife: "Marjorie, my dear -- I'm afraid I's losing my mind -- and haven't the courage to go on. And I don't want to spoil your life, so am taking the coward's way out. Dudley." Scores of persons who had been touched by Ayres' daily inspirational messages filed past his bier in a Market Street funeral chapel before the body was sent to Los Angeles for burial.