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Nov 12, 2019 8:59 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Duncan McClellan Haile, 76

Nov 13, 2019 9:14 AM

Duncan McClellan Haile, 76



Duncan McClellan Haile, a gregarious and enthusiastic member of the Sag Harbor community, died on November 4 of complications from pneumonia. During his lengthy hospitalization he completely won the hearts of all his caregivers with his charm and toughness, according to family members.

In 2006 Mr. Haile moved to Sag Harbor to take care of his mother, artist Lucia Haile. After her death in 2007 he created the Haile Art Foundation in the family home to conserve and share not only his mother’s art but also the art of his younger brother, Chris Haile, who predeceased him in 1998. This allowed him to focus his own creative energies in a new way. Mr. Haile found communities in the Hamptons that resonated on a deeper level that were an extension of the new communities he became a member of on his path to becoming a cancer survivor. At Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, he worked on staff. He practiced Reiki, and performed music with Krishna Das. Locally, he was a core member of Escola de Samba Boom. Mr. Haile also drummed with a local djembe group. He was a master of six degrees of separation. Connecting the dots was his art form, said family members.

Mr. Haile studied at Tulane University in New Orleans and received a degree in mechanical engineering. His predilection for the mechanical and how things worked was evidenced early in life, said family. Things like teaching himself to drive alone at night and hot rodding his mother’s car with a glasspack muffler and lifters at age 13. Things were made to be taken apart, said family, and anything could be fixed with a workaround. After an engineering-based professional life, Mr. Haile earned a degree in business at New York University and followed that path. Looking at the arc of his life, Mr. Haile made the transition from engineering and figuring things out on the physical plane to a kind of metaphysical engineering, said family members. He was a seeker and a celebrant. Growing up in California, he loved nature. One look at his Eurovan with kayaks and everything imaginable for outdoor adventure loaded into it pretty much said it all. And he could cook.

Mr. Haile is survived by his children, Robert and Christine, his brother Roger and three grandchildren, Cameron, Hunter and Charlotte. Charitable gifts can be made in Mr. Haile’s name to the Cam Neely Cancer Foundation. A memorial gathering will take place in Oakland Cemetery, on December 8 at 2 p.m. In the spring of 2020 there will be an art exhibit at the Haile Art Foundation honoring Mr. Haile’s life and vision.

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