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In Memory... Nancy J. Haley (1944-2010)

Posted By Janette M. Lallier, Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Reverend Nancy J. Haley died on August 27, 2010. Rev. Haley was 66 years old. Rev. Haley was born on July 12, 1944, in Rapid City, South Dakota, to Joseph Milton Pearl Shaver and Inez Lenore Shaver. She earned degrees from the University of Minnesota - a Bachelor of Arts in English and German Literature in 1966 and a Master of Arts in Theater & Costume Design in 1970.

For 10 years, Rev. Haley taught English as a Second Language for the Minneapolis Public Schools. She was a free lance writer and a film and video producer for nearly 25 years. Among her many productions was the 42 minute film, "Great Branches, New Roots: The Hmong Family" (1981) which documented the Hmong refugees’ concept of family, its structure, and its role in their survival in the Twin Cities.

She also wrote, produced, and directed on such varied topics as cultural awareness for tutors of English as a Second Language; living with disabilities; juror responsibilities; and how to take the bus for non-speakers of English. In addition, she filmed sessions for the Minnesota State Legislature from 1989 to 1992.

While a member of Unity Church Unitarian in St. Paul, Ms. Haley created Images for Our Lives, a series of videotapes for children that supplemented a religious education curriculum.

In March 1996, Rev. Haley received her M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School and was ordained the following September at Unity Church Unitarian in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was Interim Minister to the Third Unitarian Church of Chicago for one year before being called to the UU Society of Iowa City, where she served until 2009. She was Interim to the Second Unitarian Church of Omaha from 2009 – 2010.

Rev. Haley was active in the Prairie Star District, serving on the board from 2002 to 2008; the Chalice Lighters Committee from 2008-09; and the Nominating Committee from 2009-10. David Leppik, one of her PSD Board colleagues said about her, "She was always lively, thoughtful and thought-provoking. When we got mired in budget debates and fears about funding, she would dare us to dream big: that if our services were valued, they would find funding. And she was right.”

Rev. Haley is survived by her loving partner of 21 years, Tom Johnson; son, John Haley (Monica Singh) of Los Angeles; daughter, Joanna Haley of Chicago; sisters, Marcia Houk (Garry Neiderworder) & Peggy Nielsen (Scott); nephew, Josh Houk (Lisa); nieces, Stephanie & Amanda Nielsen, all of Rapid City; loved ones, Melissa (Greg) Zeleny of West Saint Paul & grandchildren, Asha & Keira Haley, Quinn, Hayden & Birk Zeleny.

A service of remembrance was held at Unity Church Unitarian in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Memorial contributions may be made to the Dahl Museum, Attn. Kathi Maxon, 713 7th Street, Rapid City, South Dakota 57701.

Please send notes of condolence to Tom Johnson, 1510 Red Cedar Road, Eagan, MN 55121.

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