April 24, 2019ALMONT — Friends and neighbors of the late-Dr. Merle "Ben" Haney, MD are welcome to attend a "Celebration of Life" visitation on Wednesday, May 1 from 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Almont, 201 E. St. Clair St.
All are also invited to attend a Celebration of Life Memorial service for Dr. Haney on Thursday, May 2 at 11 a.m.; also at the First Congregational Church.
The memorial service will be co-officiated by Rev. Bill King, pastor of First Congregational Church of Almont; and Rev. Dr. Marcel Lamb, pastor of Imlay City United Methodist Church.
Dr. Haney, 92, died on March 27, 2019 at William Beaumont Hospital of Troy from complications associated with the flu.
A World War II Navy veteran, Dr. Haney married Ruth "Ruthie" Ann Jones in Winona Lake, Indiana on December 27, 1952.
The couple had two daughters, Beth and JoAnn, and son, Paul Bennett Haney, who died in 1983.
|Dr. Merle 'Ben' Haney
Dr. Haney earned his Doctorate of Medicine in 1954 from Northwestern University.
It was in 1960 that Dr. Haney, Ruthie and children would move to Almont, where he would enter into practice with Dr. G. Clare Bishop.
A beloved general surgeon and practitioner, family members described one of his greatest joys was his OB-GYN practice.
Having delivered hundreds of babies during his nearly 50 years in practice, Dr. Haney's staff photographed many of those babies with their mothers. The photos were placed on display and later put away in his cherished "legacy baby" files.
Dr. Haney's daughters, Beth Haney-Heckart and JoAnn Haney, encourage family members of those babies and mothers to attend the visitation and take those pictures home.
Both Beth and JoAnn took the opportunity this week to share some personal memories of their father, whose examples have served them well in their own lives.
Being a small-town doctor, Beth recalled that her father was extraordinarily busy and frequently called to respond to a patient's needs at the most inopportune of times.
"Dad made house calls back in the 1960s and he would leave for work before we would get up and return home after we were already in bed," Beth recalled. "If he was home, he was always on call for emergencies at the Almont hospital.
"It was fortunate that he never drank alcohol (except occasionally for some hard cider) as he never knew when he might have to operate on somebody," she said. "Our phone rang all the time and at all hours.
"Our vacations always started late and our holidays and family celebrations were frequently interrupted," said Beth, adding that her mother would try to postpone dinner until after 8 p.m. in hopes of including their father at family meals.
Beth recalled that even her parents' 25th wedding anniversary had to take a back seat to his doctoring duties.
"Dad was called out on an emergency and never made it to the party the family had planned," she remembered. "Mom attended alone.
"In frustration, our mom would wag her finger in our faces saying, 'Whatever you do, never, ever marry a doctor.'"
That was advice that both sisters listened to and chose husbands of different fields of endeavor.
"It was tough for a small-town doctor to have a family," said Beth. "Our mom deserves a lot of credit for doing everything she could to create a family that included Dad."
She said church became where her dad slept "because he was exhausted," she said. "However, he would wake up when there was a song to be sung."
Indeed, the sisters said singing was one of Dr. Haney's favorite past-times, and he was always ready to add his tenor voice to song, whether at home or in public.
"Dad grew up with three brothers and they learned to sing four-part harmony at churches and public gatherings," Beth recalled. "At sporting events, you would always hear our Dad sing the National Anthem in perfect pitch. Even if we couldn't see him, we could always pick out his voice in the crowd."
As evidence of his love for singing and vocal harmony, Dr. Haney sang for several years with the Romeo Symphonia Chorale group; including singing with some of the group's members at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Those wishing to make memorial contributions may either plant a tree in Dr. Haney's memory or contribute to Northwestern University, Cancer Research, 7725 Harlem Ave., Bridgeview, IL 60455.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.