TOPSHAM – A lifelong educator, Albert “Jim” Haley was also a lifelong learner.

“He always wanted to learn about something new,” said his daughter, Molly Haley. “He was a man in love with learning and never wanted to cease from learning his whole life.”

Mr. Haley, who always seemed to have a book within reach, died Aug. 18. He was 84.

Originally from New Hampshire, Mr. Haley spent more than 40 years as a professor of zoology at the University of Maryland. He retired in 1984 and moved to Maine with his former wife, Sally Haley. Missing the classroom, he began teaching at the University of New England.

“He found passion in teaching,” said his youngest daughter, Philomena Haley. “He said everyday that he was retired, he wished nothing more than to be in a classroom and teach and mold young minds.”

Molly and Philomena, the youngest of Mr. Haley’s six daughters, and said they spent a lot of time with their father, sharing a special bond.

“He had a lot of time for me” in his retirement years, Molly Haley said. “I could go over and spend hours talking to him about everything. He was very present, always.”

Having adopted Philomena Haley when she was 7 years old, Mr. Haley traveled to India to pick her up, spending over a month getting to know her in her native country.

“We were really connected from the start,” she said. “He saw me in my natural home, in a world of poverty… . He was the shining light I needed for new opportunity, new adventures.”

His daughter remembers him sitting with officials and going through all the adoption paperwork, while she and the other orphans ran around him begging him for candy. She said he used to give her a piece to distribute to the other children, asking each of them to complete tasks to earn their treats.

An interest in other cultures stemmed from his desire to learn. During his University of Maryland tenure, he took a two-year break to travel to Pakistan and work as a parasitologist.

“He didn’t know what would happen, but he knew he had to do it,” Molly Haley remembers her father saying. “It was completely out of his comfort zone, but he said it was one of the most enriching experiences of his life, to immerse himself in that culture.”

In recent years, he supported the efforts of Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea.” Molly Haley said he was interested in the health and well-being of children throughout the world.

Having shared with both Molly and Philomena his interests in literature, music and photography, he encouraged their creative drive. Molly Haley said they would often sit together, reading each other literature. As someone who loved the outdoors, Mr. Haley was fascinated by the Earth and in awe of nature, she said. Because of that, he also had a great appreciation for poets that wrote about nature.

As a poet herself, Philomena Haley remembers his advice while editing her poems to “make it more elaborate.” She said he was always helping her to find synonyms for words to add effect or giving her tips on the general structure of the poem.

When it came to their education and career paths, Philomena Haley said he urged them to follow their dreams.

“He would just say that whatever I chose to do, I needed to find something I was passionate about. To find passion, the way he found passion in teaching,” his daughter said.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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