Timothy Frederick Haley, 44: Courageous family man, champion of cancer research

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Timothy Frederick Haley, 44, passed away on Feb. 27 following a three-year battle with cancer.

Haley was born on Sept. 20, 1967 in Portland. As a toddler, he demonstrated a fearless and impassioned zeal for life, and his infectious grin and a knowing twinkle in his eyes continued throughout his life. He was a devoted father, husband, son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend.

He also led a team that raised more than $70,000 to research cancer, the disease that eventually took his life.

His deep love of family and friends, his work ethic and his love for all things Maine developed at an early age and became a cornerstone of his character. As a young man, he enjoyed lobstering in Casco Bay, Sunday trips to the dump, trips to Sebago Lake and Hampton Beach, sports of all sorts, looking out for his sisters and family cookouts.

Haley’s Catholic faith blossomed when he was young, when he served as an altar boy at Holy Martyrs Church in Falmouth. He graduated from Cheverus High School in 1986, where he helped the school win the state football championship in 1985. He also played varsity baseball and basketball.

While a student at the University of Maine, Haley played rugby and was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, where he earned his nickname, “Chilidog,” from the scores of fraternity brothers who remained close to him for the rest of his life. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

After graduating, Haley continued to hone his business skills and soon became the third generation to run Haley Tire. He learned and worked side-by-side with his beloved father, and soon owned the four business locations. He was a long-time member of the New England Tire and Technicians Association.

He was also very active in charitable endeavors, including serving on the Portland Salvation Army Advisory board of directors. His personal and business donations set the bar high for others to emulate.

Haley first fell in love with Kimberly Burke after watching her ski as fast as he did down Sugarloaf. She was the woman who fit the description of a wife that a priest had once given to him, “It’s easy to find a woman to stroll in the sun with, but find a wife who can put on her raincoat and walk in the rain with you.” They were married on July 1, 2006, at the Audubon Society in Falmouth. Their daughter, Mia Rose Haley, was born on Jan. 15, 2008.

He took great pride in his home, often toting Mia around in a back pack while he mowed, raked and shoveled the family’s yards and gardens. He was a yard fanatic and never met a weed he could not kill. His backyard was also a home to his collection of barbecue grills and smokers that he loved to man in the summer for all carnivores, including his formerly vegetarian wife.

Haley was put to the test in May 2009 when he was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. In typical fashion, despite a grim prognosis, he embraced his challenge with defiant optimism. He learned all that he could about his disease while maintaining a rigorous health regimen to keep the deadly disease at bay for as long as he could.

Rather than turning inward, Haley stepped out and got involved in numerous fundraising events for cancer research. Haley founded “Team Headstrong,” a group of family and friends who became cyclists in support of cancer research. In their largest annual event, the Pan-Mass Challenge, a 192 mile bicycle race in Massachusetts, Team Headstrong raised over $70,000 for this worthy cause.

He told his doctor that as long as he kept having birthdays, he would keep participating in the challenge. At the time of his death he remained hopeful that Team Headstrong would continue their efforts in support of cancer research.

Haley once said: “As I continue to learn from this experience, I would like to serve as inspiration to others fighting the same battle. Cancer has made me realize what it means to give 100 percent to something. Before cancer I was only participating in life, now I have a better understanding of what it means to live it. When God chooses his time for me, I will be satisfied that no rock was left unturned in my quest to preserve my life and help others with theirs.”

Haley is survived by his wife, Kimberly; daughter, Mia; parents, Frederick J. and Mary Eileen Haley; sisters Robin Haley and Karen Haley; several aunts and uncles; many cousins; and an enormous circle of loving friends.

Visiting hours were held Feb. 29 at Hobbs Funeral Home, 230 Cottage Road, South Portland. A memorial Mass will be held at 10 a.m. March 1 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Portland.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Haley’s memory to Maine Medical Center, Development Department, 22 Bramhall St., Portland, ME 04102.

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