Seventeen year old Hayley Wilson was first introduced on New Year's Day 1981, when she came to the front door of the estate, of rich businessman James Stenbeck. Hayley was there on behalf of her father, renowned archaeologist Professor Wilson. Wilson was working on a top secret project for James in Egypt. Hayley had been sent back to Oakdale by her father to attend Oakdale High School.. Hayley presented James with a gift from her father. In the box were precious stones from the tomb that the professor was excavating. After examining them, he urgently told Professor Wilson to keep this discovery a secret at all costs and that he was coming to Egypt immediately.
Soon after, Hayley started seeing construction worker, Oakdale University student and aspiring doctor, Eric Hollister. Hayley made it quite clear to Eric she didn't want to take her relationship with him any further than dating and to her shock, Eric agreed. Around the first of February, while James was in Egypt, Hayley fell ill and Eric rushed her to Memorial, where John Dixon was the only doctor on call. Hayley had a very bad fever and was lucky not to die. John discovered that she had picked up a viral infection while still living in Egypt. While Hayley was still delirious with the fever, James returned to Oakdale with sad news: Professor Wilson had died in a cave-in. John was very concerned when he tried to reach Hayley’s Aunt Connie, Hayley’s guardian, and couldn't. Soon, he found out about her running around with the rather dubious, Dr. Larry Travis. Feeling very sympathetic for Hayley's plight, John petitioned the court to become Hayley’s legal guardian and take her under his wings. Surprisingly, the court agreed to give John temporary legal guardianship of Hayley, until she turned eighteen in August. .
When Hayley recovered from her illness, John let her stay at his penthouse, and then offered to help her investigate her father's death. Hayley gave him a tracing of the tomb. James’s wife, Barbara, told her good friend Connie about this and Connie found out that the court had awarded temporary legal guardianship, of her niece, to John. Connie decided to sue for guardianship, but the court refused Connie's petition saying that she was not at all ready to be a guardian for her teenaged niece. Connie was furious to say the least.
In April, despite the court ordering that Connie would not be Hayley's legal guardian, Connie started spending more time with her niece. Hayley was not necessarily impressed with the social climbing Connie and was even less impressed with Connie's boyfriend, Larry Travis. However, soon Connie started planting suggestions to Hayley that Eric Hollister was beneath her niece's standing. Hayley was livid about her aunt's statements, but soon there would be reasons why Hayley began listening to her aunt.
In the meantime, Dr. Rick Ryan had been manufacturing PCP in one of Memorial’s labs. When the lab was discovered, he hurriedly planted the PCP on the unsuspecting, Dr. Larry Travis. Unfortunately, that very day, Larry visited Barbara at Fashions Ltd. Somehow, the PCP got into the tea that Barbara was making and was ingested by Eric, who was doing construction on the new store. When Barbara left, Eric started to feel dizzy and then passed out on the sofa at Fashions. Luckily for Eric, a young woman named Karen Haines found Eric passed out and called for help. Eric was immediately taken to Memorial and Dr. Jeff Ward proceeded to pump the drugs out of Eric.
When Hayley learned about the PCP incident, she bought into her aunt’s suggestion that Eric might be a drug addict. As a result, Hayley distanced herself from Eric and he fell into the arms of his new mysterious friend, Karen Haines, who had saved his life. Eric and Karen became lovers. However, by her eighteenth birthday, Hayley realized that Eric was not a drug addict and forgave him his temporary romance and sexual tryst with the older Karen Haines. However, Hayley still couldn't understand why her aunt Connie didn't like Eric. Ultimately, it was nothing but greed. Connie knew that if Hayley married Eric, Connie would lose control of her brother's estate. Meanwhile, when the promised returns did not materialize on Connie's investment in Fashions, Ltd., Connie reminded her lover, James, that the money was Hayley's. At the same time, Cricket Montgomery claimed that she and Eric slept together on t night that Eric passed out and now Cricket was pregnant with Eric's child. Though Eric believed that Cricket was telling the truth, Karen told Hayley that she doubted it since Eric was so out of that night.
Meanwhile, Connie complained that Hayley's tuition money was all tied up in Fashions, Ltd. Next to Eric, a college education was the most important thing in Hayley's life, and she told her aunt she had no right to invest her money without consulting her first. So, Connie threatened James that she’d tell Barbara about their affair if she didn't get the money for Hayley's tuition. James lied and told her he'd ask Barbara for a divorce so they could marry. Impatient, Connie showed up at James' penthouse while Barbara was there and questioned James about the money. Shortly thereafter, Connie was found dead in her apartment. Though the police suspected suicide, the true culprit was crime lord Mr. Big who was concerned that Connie knew too much about the drug running through Fashions Ltd.
Hayley felt bad about her aunt's death, but felt free to accept Eric’s marriage proposal. Even though Cricket's threat still loomed large over their heads, Eric and Hayley married in a beautiful ceremony on Thanksgiving day, with John Dixon giving her away. The next day, Eric and Hayley both left Oakdale for Seattle, so both could pursue their college degrees and Eric could on to medical school.
Eric would return to Oakdale in February 1982, when Cricket had her baby and would finally learn that Cricket had been lying—he was not the baby’s father. Eric returned to Seattle to be with Hayley. Though there has been no mention of the Hollisters in decades, it is to be assumed that Eric and Hayley are still very happy in their married life in Seattle.