One of Theodore H. Haegele’s first jobs a half-century ago, as a Nassau County probation officer, was a training ground for his career as a clinical psychologist.
“He carried a gun — the only time in his life he ever carried a gun — and he was generally meeting with people, seeing they were keeping up [with probation terms]. It was part law enforcement and part counseling,” his son Gregory said.
“I think that he saw very early in his life that he had the ability to connect to people and get them to work out their own issues,” his son said.
Haegele, a Stony Brook resident who had a private counseling practice for decades, died June 2 of lung cancer at age 76, his son said.
Haegele was born Aug. 3, 1939, to parents who had immigrated to the United States in the 1920s. He worked at a family nursery in Freeport before attending St. John’s University, where he received a doctorate in psychology in 1973.
He worked as a probation officer while attending college and opened his own practice in 1973 in Huntington. He later moved the practice to Commack, and then to Hauppauge, where he had practiced for the past 30 years.
He was an avid sailor, spending long stretches on the water aboard his 35-foot sloop, Necessity. He also enjoyed landscaping, using skills learned at the family nursery in Freeport, on the grounds of his Stony Brook home.
“At his wake, I was struck by the number of his patients — people I would know nothing about because of patient confidentiality — came and talked to me and other family members about how important my father was to them,” said Gregory, of Stony Brook.
Haegele is also survived by his wife, Terri; his first wife, Barbara Lee Haegele; another son, Theodore Jr. of Brooklyn; his brother, Edmund, of Freeport; and five grandchildren. He is also survived by sisters Gertrude Rhein and Elizabeth Sumpton.
A wake was held Saturday and Sunday at the St. James Funeral Home, followed by cremation.