Halsey started college at Princeton in fall of 2000 and studied for a semester at the Center for Northern Studies in Vermont. He transferred to Harvard in the fall of 2004, finishing college in December of 2006 as a biology concentrator.
After graduation, Halsey joined an engineering research lab at Dartmouth College. But six months later, he traded in his lab coat to pursue his love of the outdoors, later founding a tree service company in Vermont called Halsey Treenail.
Halsey also volunteered as a firefighter during his time in Vermont because he was interested in public service and wanted to do something to help his town, said Halsey’s brother-in-law, Kit Leckerling.
Halsey, who came from a family of linguists, was fluent in Mandarin among other languages and interested in Asian culture. He once wrote a physics paper combining his interests in linguistics and science, explaining Einsteinian theory in Chinese.
Cabot House Master Jay M. Harris said that Halsey will always be remembered as a role model, both spiritually and intellectually.
“You just felt stupid being angry or whiny around him because he was above it,” Harris said. “He had that certain kind of calm that made you feel dumb.”
Halsey was known for his light-heartedness. Once a friend offered him a donut, and Halsey declined, saying jokingly, “I can’t distinguish the taste of something from its effects on my body.”
At Halsey’s memorial service on Sunday, many who knew him mentioned his passion for knowledge and his capacity to learn new skills quickly.
Michael K. Mulligan, headmaster of Thacher School in California where Halsey attended high school, added that Halsey was “Zen-like in his abnegation of the ego.”
“He was always doing something for somebody,” Leckerling said. “If there is a tree down across the road, he’d be the guy to go out there and clear it out, not hoping everybody would think he was such a great person, but because he had a commitment to helping people.”
In a letter to Halsey’s family, Stuart C. Wulsin ’06 recalled a time when Halsey rescued an inebriated student from the Cabot House roof by devising a contraption made from rope and a harness.
Wulsin said he personally experienced Halsey’s willingness to help others when he was running a marathon. Wulsin, 10 miles into the race and exhausted, saw Halsey cheering for him along the sidelines. Halsey stepped over the sidelines and ran alongside Wulsin for the next 10 miles still wearing his khakis. Wulsin said that Halsey’s unusual act drew the attention of the crowd, which began cheering “Go Pants Man!”
Halsey is survived by his mother, father, and five sisters.