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John's Story

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John O'Leary Haight II, 55 of Morehead, died on Dec 7. He was the son of John O'Leary Haight of Lexington and Phyllis Haight of Morehead. He is survived by his wife, April Haight, son Nodin, of Morehead sister Lajuanda Haight Maybriar (Jon Maybriar) nephew Evan Flaugher and great nephew Xavier Griffith.

John Haight taught me more in life than I could ever have imagined. He was my greatest mentor and friend who brought inspiration and wisdom in so many subtle ways. Through a long line of misadventures too great to recount, we built a brotherhood I have not otherwise experienced. Lost in a white out at 16,000 feet on a Mexican volcano, hypothermic on a kayaking trip in Alaska, inspiring me to bicycle across the United States that lead to meeting my wife. He introduced me to bourbon, good coffee, stoicism, mountain biking, kayaking, and life.

His legacy is one of stoic resolve in physical challenge; humble wisdom shared mostly in being the example of knowledge and superhuman ability, and teaching with utmost patience and resolve to see others enjoy the natural world. Few men can ever expect or hope to perform half as well as he. And all the while amongst his uncanny endurance in adversity, he exuded great love for his son, for his wife, for the wild, the mountains, and even for stray dogs. The world has now suffered the travesty of a departing sage. May the sun be soft upon your face John, and the wind never again fight against you but fall softly on your back.

Few people manifest the complexities of human nature than John O. Haight. For those of us that knew human as a triathlete and adventure racer, he was a fierce competitor. For those of us that saw him as a small businessman, a bicycle shop owner, he was a meticulous mechanic and yet a risk-taking entrepreneur. Still, that fierce competitive nature was balanced by the thoughtful, caring, affectionate, and loving husband and father. For those of us who were fortunate to know John as friend benefitted greatly from his generosity and his compassion. I was witness to John in every one of these roles and am a better person because of it.

A consummate outdoor athlete, John lived a quiet, unassuming life. Perhaps unknown to John was the fact that among local climbers and paddlers, John was a celebrity—one of the best of the best. While his confidence in his abilities to navigate unknown terrain, paddle treacherous whitewater, and scale the most intimidating of cliff faces, inspired many people, including me, to undertake our own outdoor adventures, his success in these endeavors instilled in others their own confidence to be successes in the woods and on the water. John lived an "outdoor life" and found joy in sunsets and full moons, in white tail deer and great blue herons, and in cliff lines and forests. John's quality of life was in the people, especially April and Nodin, and the environment that surrounded him.

In many ways I should have never known John as well as I did. Athletically, I was never in his league. Decidedly faster and stronger than most people—especially me—I always struggled to keep pace on our many bicycle rides, kayak trips, and climbs. Given John's caring, compassionate nature, he constantly encouraged me, despite my shortcomings. Because of his self-deprecating manner, John looked for, and saw, the good, the potential, and positive in others. A rare quality, John had the ability to elevate others and this endeared him to all those who shared "his road."

Celebration of Life for John Haight was on Saturday, Dec. 10.

We honored John's passion for the outdoors by going on a paddle together 12:00-1:30pm. Followed by a hike 2:00-4:00pm. Both activities took place at Paragon.
We met for food & drinks from 5:00-8:00pm at Trent and Connie Hamilton's house - 496 Skaggs Road, Morehead.

Donations can be made in John's memory to Triplett Valley Trail, Morehead, KY, Red River Gorge Climbing Coalition, and The Access Fund.
Published on December 13, 2016
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