Ladder trucks from Cazenovia and DeWitt fire departments were poised in front of the Cazenovia Fire House on Monday, July 28, a U.S. flag suspended between the two extended ladders, as firefighters from Cazenovia, DeWitt, and numerous other local, regional and state fire and emergency services organizations said goodbye to their colleague, John Haley.
Haley, a career firefighter, former Cazenovia VFD chief and member of numerous state and regional organizations, passed away last Monday, July 21, at the age of 67.
During Haley’s funeral on July 28, his body processed through the streets of Cazenovia on the back of a fire truck — from Tait Funeral Home to St. James Church, with a stop in front of the Cazenovia Fire House, to St. James Cemetery.
“Normally, that is for a line-of-duty death, but we believe that for all time he put into the fire service, he definitely deserves a good going out,” Cazenovia Fire Chief Nick Enders said.
Haley was a career firefighter who began in 1967 when we joined the Cazenovia Fire Department, and which he later served as chief from 1987-89. In 1970, he became a paid professional firefighter/paramedic for the DeWitt Fire District retiring, in 1990.
During his nearly 50-year tenure in fire and emergency services throughout the Central New York region, Haley belonged to, and served in leadership positions, in numerous organizations, including the Madison County Firemen’s Association, the CNY Firemen’s Association, Fire Associations of the state of New York and the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs. He was a Madison County fire coordinator for 25 years.
In Cazenovia, where he lived, Haley was a lifetime member of the Cazenovia Volunteer Fire Department and a charter member of Cazenovia Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps. He also served for 10 years as a zoning officer for the village of Cazenovia and was a member of the Cazenovia Civic Club. He was also active in the Greater Cazenovia Area Chamber of Commerce and the Cazenovia Car Club.
“There are not too many people in New York that don’t know John Haley’s name,” said Enders. “His obituary says a lot. John had been involved in fire service whole life.”
Even after his retirement, Haley continued to serve in the Cazenovia VFD attending meetings, driving trucks, participating in parades and anything he could do, Enders said. “He was there any time we needed him,” Enders said. “He will be missed 100 percent.”
“Mr. Haley served the village in countless ways — not only as a firefighter and first responder but also as our zoning officer for many years. We are saddened by his passing and extend our sincere condolences to his family,” said Cazenovia Mayor Kurt Wheeler.
Shortly after the news of Haley’s passing on Monday, July 21, was released, social media lit up with tributes and eulogies to him and his legacy as a firefighter and fire and emergency services leader.
The New Woodstock Fire Department posted two photos of Haley participating in their events on their Facebook page. They included comments such as, “RIP John, and thank you for all you did for the Fire Service locally and all over NYS.” And “RIP John. You were always a great friend to our Fire Department and a closer friend to many of us members.”
The Madison County Fire Departments posted on its Facebook page on July 21, “Today we mourn the loss of John Haley who has been a huge part of this county’s fire protection for almost fifty years. As past chief and lifetime member of Cazenovia Fire Department and member since 1967, he was also a big part of CNYFA and FASNY for years, with a CNYFA award named after him. We all thankful for all he’s done and will always keep him in our hearts. Rest Easy Brother, we will miss you!”
Madison County Emergency Services Coordinator Joe DeFrancisco, for whom Haley served as deputy for many years, said “He was a stalwart. John was someone who, even at end of his career, was doing things like representing the Firemans Association of New York State every time a firefighter in the county reached the 50-year mark. John would be there to represent the organization, to award plaques and give ceremonial weight to those things.”
“Firefighting was John’s abiding interest – he was a firefighter. It was his avocation, his abiding passion,” DeFrancisco said. “He was a character. He loved to tell stories and we’ll be telling stories about him forever. John was a great friend; he will be sadly missed.”
Haley’s colleague and friend of 60 years, John Durfee, agreed.
“He was a great friend; we had a lot of fun together,” Durfee said. “Firefighting was his life. We traveled all over the state together for conventions, going to wakes. He was always there in a time of need. He was just a true friend.”
During Monday’s funeral procession, as the fire truck/hearse stopped in front of the Cazenovia fire house, with the Dewitt and Cazenovia ladder trucks posed in honor, firefighters from Cazenovia and numerous other organizations stood in a line and saluted their old friend and colleague as the truck stopped and blew its horn three times for last call. It then proceeded on to St. James cemetery for final burial.
“We would like to thank all of the out-of-town organizations that came in to pay their respects, and of course best wishes to John’s family, Pat and Tammy,” Enders said.
Anyone wishing to send an online condolence to the Haley family may do so at taitfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Haley’s memory may be made to Cazenovia Fire Department, PO Box 304 in Cazenovia or LAFASNY/Firemen’s Fund, c/o Marilyn Farrell, 377 Vosenkill Rd, Athens, NY 12015.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.