By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent
Stephen Roger Halley lived all of his days experiencing life to the fullest, loving and treating his neighbors, family and friends as he would himself – a creed that defined and inspired him.
As his son Craig recounted at his father’s funeral service on July 30 at the Congregation Shir Shalom in Woodstock, Halley was “the embodiment of the idea of rolling up your sleeves and helping someone out.”
“There was no one my father would not help out,” said Craig. “No matter where you were from or what your story was, if he could, he would help.”
Halley passed away on July 27 in Hingham, Mass., where he had lived part-time with his fiancée, Joan Carr. He also resided in Woodstock where he was an active community member and a well-known host in his own home to travelers, newcomers, visitors and neighbors.
He was predeceased by his wife, Hasse, of 48 years. He leaves five children, 11 grandchildren and a brother in addition to his fiancée.
According to his friends and children, Halley possessed a wry wit, a sharp mind and a kind spirit.
“Dad was always encouraging me to find a path where I didn’t feel the need to be the center of attention but accomplish what I wanted to and finish what I needed to get done,” said Halley’s son David, who recounted the time his father offered patience and understanding in a difficult situation.
“When I was a senior in high school, we had a science project where we needed to pick a theory and disprove it,” said David. “I started using my pocket knife for carving. And what do you know, at 11 p.m. one night, my hand slipped and I cut myself. Dad never got angry or freaked out. And, on our way home (from the hospital), he stopped at the grocery store and bought half sour kosher dill pickles so we could make peanut butter and pickle sandwiches which were my favorite.”
Halley served as the Head of the Technology Marketing Support Center over the course of his 30-year career at IBM in Essex, Vt. He co-founded the Mt. Elmore Institute consulting firm in Vermont. Halley also co-founded the Hiller Group, an executive search insurance firm in Woodstock, along with Steve Hiller.
Hiller worked with Halley in the executive search business from 2004 to 2017.
“He was remarkable, very successful and made everyone around him stronger,” Hiller recalled. “Sharing his business savvy and extensive marketing expertise made our success contagious. We had a great working relationship… and he was my closest friend. A great combination.”
Halley also served as Temple President for Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington, Vt., for multiple terms and as Hillel Director at the University of Vermont. He was deeply committed to a spiritually Jewish life.
“Steve was a spiritual man, dedicated to his faith,” said close friend Mary Riley. “He was intelligent and thoughtful in everything he said and did. When talking to Steve, he listened, paid attention, and responded so you knew he heard what you had said. He was honest and sincere but also witty and enjoyed sharing a laugh.”
Halley will continue to enrich the life of good friend Anthea Lavallee, as she related.
“Steve was a great friend and one of the strongest, most generous people I know,” said Lavallee. “Just being in his atmosphere was reassuring, soaking up his good humor and keen insights.”
Indeed, when youngest son, Ben Israel, was going through his father’s affairs as power of attorney and signator, to his surprise he found in a letter from a bank revealing that his father had co-signed a loan for the daughter of his children’s grandmother’s caregiver so she could pursue an MBA.
“He didn’t think twice about helping her out,” said Ben. “My father was certainly a great role model: hard-working, creative, very smart, well spoken, kind and caring.”
Daughter Liza noted that her father never talked about his many kind deeds, however.
“He just happily gave when the need existed, knowing he was making a difference in someone’s life,” said Liza.
Longtime friend Joyce Roof understood that first-hand, not only as a colleague of Halley’s wife but also watching their husbands develop a deep and supportive friendship.
“If Carl was working on a project, Steve always offered to help,” said Roof. “If not physically, he offered his ideas of how to accomplish the task.”
When the Roofs bought a swing set for their granddaughter, for example, it arrived unassembled and without directions.
“Steve was immediately interested and arrived at 9 a.m. to direct the process of laying out all the pieces and putting a plan together for assembly,” said Roof. “At 4:30 p.m. it was done, and a beautiful job it was, thanks to him.”
After Hasse’s passing in 2011, Roof began to stop in regularly to see how Halley was doing. Both held a common bond of losing a loved one in a sudden and tragic event.
“We shared our grief and gave comfort to one another,” said Roof. “We talked about many subjects, and Steve was knowledgeable about a wide range of topics. He liked to explain things in depth and was patient in providing the information. Interspersed in his conversation were glimpses of his wit and humor. Steve always made us feel welcomed into his home and family. I will miss his quiet ways and conversation.”
By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent