Van Rensselaer Halsey, Jr. died March 18, 2019 at Westerly Hospital, Westerly, RI. Known as "Court" in his youth, he was born in New York City, the son of Van R. Halsey and Ethel Simmons Halsey. After graduating from the Hill School in Pottstown, PA, he served in the U.S. Navy during W.W. II, after which he married Jessie I. Parkes and enrolled in Rutgers University.
With a B.A. from Rutgers he went on to an M.A. at the University of RI where he also worked in the admissions office. Several years later he received a Ph.D. in American Studies from U. Penn, after which he went to Amherst College as Instructor in American Studies. He soon found, however, that he enjoyed working in the admissions office and became Associate Dean of Admissions for approximately twelve years. While at Amherst he and other history educators in 1964 started "The Amherst Project" and published a new kind of high school U.S. history curriculum.
Excited next by the new educational philosophy of Hampshire College, Van joined the founders and became the first Director of Admissions and Associate Professor of American Studies, admitting the first class in 1970. He also became the first president of the New England Association of College Admissions Counselors.
After approximately thirteen years at Hampshire, and the death of his wife Jessie, he retired early and attended Yale Divinity School, receiving an M.A.R. degree. While at Yale he married Clay S. Halsey, a fellow student. They moved to Stonington, CT where he had a summer home, and they had two children. In his retirement Van had an active lay ministry, serving in several capacities at both St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Mystic, CT and Christ Episcopal Church in Westerly, RI.
He is survived by his wife Clay of 37 years and their children Ashley and William and their spouses, as well as his four children from his first marriage - Dale Lea, Cynthia Christine, Elizabeth Halsey, and Katharine McLaren and their husbands, along with five grandchildren, three step-grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His sister Elizabeth, brother Stephen, and stepbrothers Michael Sherman, William Riker, and Robert Riker all predeceased him, along with his brother-in-law Creighton Parkes. He is survived by his sisters-in-law Louise Halsey, Agnes Sherman, and Margaret Parkes. He is also survived by his brothers-in-law Douglas and Richard Soutar and spouse, and sister-in-law Nancy Soutar.
A memorial service is planned at Christ Episcopal Church in Westerly, RI on Saturday, June 1, at 11 a.m. Burial will be held on a different day in NJ. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Christ Church, Westerly Hospital or Hope Hospice of Rhode Island.
Published in The Westerly Sun on Apr. 12, 2019.