Robert Haughton (1949 - 2014)

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    - Jacqueline Robbins
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NORTHAMPTON – Robert Haughton, 64, of Northampton, and formerly of Surrey, England, passed away Monday, July 14, 2014, at home, from a sudden pulmonary illness.

He was born Sept. 4, 1949, in Gardiner, Maine, son of John and Marie Haughton. He attended Northampton High School and Westfield State College, where he excelled in psychology and protested against administration malfeasance.

After the birth of his daughter and son in 1983 and 1985, he pursued a career in the care of the mentally ill. Six years later, he moved to England to accept a job at Brookwood Institution, which at the time was still being run in the Victorian asylum model. Defying the administration and staff, he transitioned the hospital into the modern, "care in the community" model and radically improved the lives of countless patients who were able to thrive outside of the hospital. His system is still used in the United Kingdom today.

Eventually, he rose to become the CEO of the National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy (NCYPE), the largest children's epilepsy charity in England, a position which led him to meet with Prince Charles and other dignitaries regularly over the years, but his primary interest was always the young people his organization helped.

Ten years ago, he reunited online with his high school sweetheart, after they each joined hoping to find the other. Soon after, he left his position as CEO and all his possessions in England, and moved back to Northampton, where he took a job working as a paraprofessional with challenged teens at the alternative high school HEC. Nothing gave him greater joy than helping others, including his students.

He is survived by his daughter Caitlin Marie; his son William Wright; his step-daughters Jocelyn and Kirsten; his new granddaughter Kyla; his siblings Joe, Kathy and Peter; and of course, the love of his life, his wife Denise.

He didn't want a big fuss or bother, so his family will be having a small private memorial only, but everyone who knew him will never forget what a joyful, giving, passionate, and truly rare person he was.

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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on July 18, 2014