K. Daniel Haley died last week at the age of 83. If you lived in the North Country during the 1970s, you may recall Dan was the first Democrat elected to state government from this district. He served as NYS Assemblyman from 1970-76.
But that’s almost beside the point. Back in the ’70s, Dan was a bright light, open to new ideas about energy and the environment. The line between visionary and oddball can be a thin one, and ultimately it may not be clear which category applies until years later when we can say, “oh, he saw that the US would need to find alternative energy sources to replace Middle East oil,” vs. “oh, he was off the deep end thinking oil would ever decline as our primary energy source.”
Indeed, Dan was so far ahead that even now our country and our energy industries haven’t caught up to Dan’s understanding that renewable energy sources would have to replace non-renewable petro-fuels. And, he knew that was a good thing: yes, to free us from a dependency on foreign producers who might not always be our friends, but more importantly because we needed to start taking better care of our environment.
After his time in public office, I lost track of Dan. He returned to the region some years later, involved in a number of business projects–including tertiary oil wells and western real estate.
At this point, he became interested in alternative medicine. He came to visit me at the station about 10 years ago. He wanted to bring me up to speed on his writing and research on this subject. (I’d like to revisit that work now…if it’s anything like his effort in the renewable energy field, I suspect we’ll all be quoting him on forward-thinking medical practices.)
I’m writing this brief tribute–and heading over to the calling hours–because Dan Haley worked hard for us for six years, and cared about our collective future. He was smart and open-minded and wasn’t afraid to give new ideas a fair chance, even if he risked being thought of as an oddball.
This is a recent graph of energy sources…still room for change, Dan.
Here’s a link to a complete obituary that appeared in several area newspapers, probably prepared by Dan’s family since pretty much the same text appeared in several locations.
(UPDATE: At calling hours, I talked at length with Jim and Joyce Monroe, who were long-time friends of Dan. They wrote the obituary that appeared in area newspapers.)