Music concert in Dix Hills honors the life and legacy of late, beloved choir director

The auditorium at Half Hollow Hills East High School filled with former students who came from all over the country to take part in this concert that honored James F. Haefele, the man they called "Mr. Haef."

News 12 Staff

Feb 12, 2023, 3:43 AM

Updated 518 days ago

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A concert in the making for almost three years to honor the life of a Long Island choir director was finally held Saturday night in Dix Hills.
The auditorium at Half Hollow Hills East High School filled with former students who came from all over the country to take part in this concert that honored James F. Haefele, the man they called "Mr. Haef."
Friends, former colleagues and students of James Haefele also attended the event. Many of them performed in a concert that honored the life and legacy of their beloved choir director, who died of COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic.
"It's overwhelming and was really touching to see these alumni come together... and just hug each other," said James Haefele's wife, Laurie Haefele.
"I think this whole event, for all the impact my dad made, this just brings resolution and closure to so many people," said his son, Michael Haefele.
That closure was delayed for nearly two and a half years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite the obstacles, a tribute to say goodbye to the man who inspired so many, the James F. Haefele Memorial Concert finally happened.
"There was a point that there was so many barriers that kept coming up, not allowing this to happen and we were like, 'OK, just let it go,' but no, this committee that planned this, his alumni wouldn't let it go and it's finally here," said Laurie Haefele.
Alumni from over three decades and from all over the country gathered to remember the man who helped shaped lives for over 30 years.
"It was how he gave us a home when we didn't have one. It was how he inspired confidence," said Brett Smith, president of the James F. Haefele Memorial Scholarship.
"He fostered our music education, our pathways forward and it's just one of the best memories of high school hanging with 'Mr. Haef,'" said Jamie Serkin, chair of the James F. Haefele Memorial Scholarship Planning Committee.
Funds from the concert will go towards a scholarship set up in his name and will be given to students from both Half Hollow Hills East High School and Half Hollow Hills West High School.
For more information about the James F. Haefele Memorial Scholarship, follow this link.


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