Concert nearly 3 years in the making to honor Dix Hills choir director who died of COVID-19

Former colleagues and students, including some from out of state, will be attending the concert on Feb. 11.

News 12 Staff

Feb 3, 2023, 3:36 AM

Updated 447 days ago


A concert nearly three years in the making to remember the life of a Long Island choir director is finally happening.
Jim Haefele taught at Half Hollow Hills High School in Dix Hills for over 35 years. He died from COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic in 2020.
A scholarship in his name was established and a memorial concert was planned, but as the pandemic lingered on, the concert kept getting put off.
During the high school choir director's four-week battle in the hospital, he got to hear from some of his students.
"A Zoom recording of his closing song that he did at every concert, the Irish blessing," says Laurie Haefele, Jim's widow. "We played that in his hospital room as often as we could while he was ill."
Jim's son, Michael Haefele, was a registered nurse who was working in the critical care unit and helped care for his father. He says hearing the music from his dad's students helped the whole family.
"I think it was a comfort not only for him, but me, our family, especially for what we had to go through and the circumstances that it was," Michael says.
The postponed concert is finally happening next Saturday at Half Hollow Hills High School East.
Former colleagues and students, including some from out of state, will be attending.
"I think Saturday is going to give us an opportunity to kind of heal and be together and sing his music," says Arielle Murdocco, a former student. "Hearing his words in the back of our brains of how he would have approached the performance."
The money raised during the Feb. 11 concert will go to a scholarship in Jim's name.

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