Celebrating Haley’s amazing life on tap Sunday

The community is preparing to bid a heartfelt farewell to one of its favorite sons.

Matt Haley — restaurateur, philanthropist, speaker and basic humanitarian — passed away on Aug. 19 from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident in India while performing some of his humanitarian efforts. His loss was a shock to many in our area, not only because he was only 53 years old, but also because of the enthisiasm and zest for life he exhibited nearly every moment of his life.

His death stunned many of us and left us scrambling for answers. There were none. At least none that made any sense. There was a public outpouring of sympathy, as restaurants and shops honored Haley’s contributions to our area through their marquees. And his restaurants were packed following the news of his death, as people seemingly wanted to connect with the man one last time.

Think we are blowing this out of proportion simply because he passed away too young? Consider that earlier this year Haley was recognized with the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year Award, the National Restaurant Association Education’s Foundation Cornerstone Humanitarian Award and the International Association of Culinary Professionals National Humanitarian Award, according to representatives from his Global Delaware Fund.

He was a gift to the world through his contributions, but he was also ours. He was one of us.

In remembrance of Haley, there will be an event this Sunday, Sept. 28, at the Freeman Stage at Bayside, at 2 p.m. There will be guest speakers, food (including one of Haley’s latest projects, the food truck “Big Thunder Roadside Kitchen”) and music. This is open to the public, and organizers ask that those who come to celebrate Haley’s life bring non-perishable food items to donate to one of his causes, the Food Bank of Delaware.

Haley’s deeds will last forever in the minds of those who knew him, and this is our chance to say farewell to a cherished friend.