Elvin Haley died peacefully in Mount Vernon on February 7, 2013. Born in Seattle in 1927 as the only surviving child of Myrtle and Stirling Haley, he received his early education in the Seattle school system, graduating from Lincoln High School in 1945.
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Music was part of his life from the beginning. His mother, an amateur singer and musician, started him on piano lessons. In junior high he took up the French Horn which was to remain his primary instrument, and in high school was a member of both the band and orchestra. He also sang with the boy's glee club and lettered in track.
After attending University of Washington for only one quarter, Elvin was drafted into the Army. He reported to Fort Lewis for basic training, headed east for band school and was recruited by the West Point Band. His two years at West Point included "a lot of marching" as the band participated in the football games, parades and all ceremonial events. It also gave him a taste of travel and the east coast.
Upon his return to Seattle, Elvin enrolled again at U of W where he completed his BA of Music Education and received a music teaching position with the Nooksack Valley School District. In March of 1950 Elvin married Lois Poindexter in Des Moines, WA and they were fortunate to celebrate 62 years of marriage. They are the parents of three daughters, Carolann Haley (Washington, DC), Donn Haley Heflin (Juneau, AK) and Deb Haley (Yuma, AZ) and grandparents to granddaughter, Reilly Haley Villanueva (Portland, OR).
In 1954 Elvin was hired by the Mount Vernon School District to head the band program. During his 25 years as "the music man" in Mt. Vernon, Elvin Haley ("Mr. Haley" to his students) touched the lives of thousands of young musicians in the valley, encouraging them from their first introduction to the instruments through the high school band program. In 1968 Elvin was awarded a fellowship providing the opportunity to earn his Master of Music Supervision at the University of Michigan. He and the family moved to Ann Arbor for a year as he completed the program. Retuning to Mount Vernon, he became Music Supervisor for the Mount Vernon Public Schools, continuing to teach elementary through junior high programs.
Mount Vernon First United Methodist Church played an important role in his life here. He was offered the position of Chancel Choir Director when he first arrived in town, and continued to serve in that role for 36 years. Additionally he served as a trustee, established the Endowment Fund and directed the handbell choir. Elvin was active in the local Kiwanas and when he retired from teaching a fund was established in his honor to provide band instruments for children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to play. He was a major figure in the local Neighbors-in-Need program and he and Lois traveled throughout the state volunteering on Habitat for Humanity building projects.
His love of camping, hiking and travel took him to nearly every state and encouraged his interest in photography. He performed regularly with the Bellingham Symphony, the Skagit Symphony and was an active chamber music enthusiast.
Water held a special lure and he spent many enjoyable hours canoeing, fishing and crabbing. After crewing for friends racing sailboats he was finally able to realize the dream of owning his own. As a member of the Anacortes Yacht Club, he raced regularly and competitively! He purchased a gillnet boat with a partner and fished commercially for several years. His greatest joy was to be on the water, sailing in his beloved sailboat, COLO.
Elvin will be deeply missed in the community as a musician, teacher, husband, father and grandfather.
A memorial service honoring Elvin's life will be held on Saturday, February 16 at 1 p.m. at Mount Vernon First United Methodist Church.
Memorial donations in his honor may be made to: Mount Vernon First United Church Endowment Fund, 1607 East Division Street, Mount Vernon, WA 92873; The Skagit-Mount Vernon Kiwanis Elvin Haley Music Fund, P.O. Box 87, Mount Vernon, WA 98273l; American Parkinson's Disease Association, 135 Parkinson Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10305-1425 firstname.lastname@example.org www.apdaparkinson.org.
Funeral arrangements are under the care of Kern Funeral Home: 360-336-2153.
Published in Skagit Valley Herald Publishing Company on Feb. 13, 2013