John O. Haight
Tuesday 2nd of January 1940 - Monday 26th of August 2019
Celebration of Life
Steele's Run Farm
1701 Elkchester Road, Lexington, KY
John O’Leary “Hoppy” Haight, 79, died Monday, August 26, 2019, in an accident on Old Frankfort Pike outside of Lexington. Born Jan. 2, 1940 in Grayson, Ky., Hoppy was a retired engineer turned forester and cultivator on Steele’s Run Farm in Lexington, where he lived with his wife of 46 years Caroline “Pat” Wade Haight.
He attended Morehead State, Georgia Tech and was a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Civil Engineering.
Hoppy and Pat met at the UK College of Engineering and when they married Hoppy not only gained a wife who was an engineer, but also an extended family full of engineers – 7 to be exact. In keeping with the majority of his in-laws, Hoppy also was a lefty which kept the dinner table in order.
While at UK, Hoppy helped start the university’s first Rugby Football Club (RFC). Hoppy played and coached rugby as a Wildcat well beyond his time as a student. His 1970 inaugural team was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2012. Hoppy also helped start Lexington Blackstones RFC - a men’s rugby team in Lexington that competes in division III of the Ohio Rugby Union. He played for the Blackstones for years until his body gave out.
Upon graduation, Hoppy began a long-term career working for the Commonwealth of Kentucky first as a surveyor and then in various engineering roles. His jobs ranged from sanitary engineering which was focused on protecting the Commonwealth’s water supply to managing entrance permits to the state’s highways, ensuring motorists’ safety. He retired from the state in 2000.
Hoppy combined his love of the road with his athleticism, competing in motocross for about 10 years and becoming an avid long-distance bicyclist. His cycling treks included a 1,400-mile ride along U.S. 60 from Albuquerque, New Mexico to his Lexington home on a bike named Eisenhower. He also made a multistate journey from Lexington to Florida, and he and his late son Dale Patrick Haight rode a tandem from Lexington to the Smoky Mountains and back. Hoppy also was known for keeping his work wardrobe at the office, allowing him to ride his bike to and from work.
Always up for an adventure, Hoppy also was a skydiver. He made thousands of jumps and got his daughter Elvia Lopez-Bautista started in the sport as well.
Hoppy and his wife Pat also enjoyed travel. They spent 6 weeks in New Zealand, explored Machu Picchu in Peru and the mountains of Ecuador. They also annually visited their home-away-from-home in Mexico. During their travels, Hoppy collected hats from various places that he and Pat visited. He had hundreds of unusual hats, including an English top hat.
As he got older, Hoppy was happiest at home on the 700-acre farm he shared with his in-laws in Lexington. He loved the land and planted raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries – perfect for eating as nature intended or creating cobblers, jams and jellies.
A lifelong student, Hoppy re-enrolled at UK as a Donovan’s Scholar, studying Spanish and forestry. He created his own arboretum on the farm planting hundreds of trees including bald cypress along Steele’s Run creek, paw paws and Buckram Oaks. He also created beautiful, mulched walking trails throughout the woods on the farm. And many of his in-laws would request his horticultural assistance on various garden projects from restoring a century-old rock garden to creating new flower beds and laying dry stone patios. Hoppy often would take his in-laws ideas, incorporate his own vision and leave them with a much-improved product.
His Irish descent presented itself strongly in his love of stone. He and his wife Pat used the dry-stone foundation from the original homestead on the land-grant farm to build the retaining walls and rock arches for their home. The pair also have renovated the Patrick family cemetery as well as Pat’s parents’ English Tudor home that was on the national register of historic places.
Hoppy was preceded in death by his parents Oscar Haight and Beatrice Brooks Haight, sons John O’Leary Haight II and Dale Patrick Haight, and grandson Josh. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children Lajuanda Jo Haight-Maybriar (Jon), Patricia Lopez-Bautista (Dennis), Jose Lopez-Bautista, Elvia Lopez-Bautista, his daughter-in-law April Reefer Haight, his beloved grandchildren Nodin, Evan, David and Esme, great-grandson Xavier, his brother-in-law and sisters-in-law, several nieces and nephews, and many, many Rugger teammates.
Memorials may be made to Girl Scouts of Kentucky-Wilderness Road Council. A memorial service in celebration of his life will be held Saturday, October 19th, 3:00 pm at Steele's Run Farm located at 1701 Elkchester Road, Lexington, KY 40510. Milward Funeral Directors are entrusted with Mr. Haight's arrangements. To share a remembrance of John or offer condolences to his family, please visit milwardfuneral.com
Pat, I am so sorry for your loss. I wish I had met this incredible man. It seems that you have wonderful memories to cherish. I am sorry I will not be able to attend the memorial but if you need anything please reach out to us.
So sorry to hear of your loss
Dear Pat, It was very sad to read to your husbands passing today. I had heard many stories from some of the other Girl Scouts I know, about how wonderful a man your Hoppy was. Know that your Girl Scouts friends are thinking of you during this time of sorrow.
Lisa "Lee" Henderson-Hillsays
Pat please know that your Girl Scout family is holding you close during this most difficult time. Send prayers for comfort and peace.
Pat, I am so sorry for your incredible loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire family. Please let us know if there is anything we can help you with during this hard time. Ruby Webster
It was honor knowing and playing rugby with Hoppy on UK’s inaugural rugby team in 1970. He was older, wiser, and brought his calm maturity to the team during its formative years. After I left UK, Hoppy and I stayed in touch throughout my Army career. He shared his Irish humor and wit on email, and I’m glad we reconnected during recent UK Rugby Alumni gatherings. May you help form a new rugby team in heaven! I’ll be glad to be your prop! Cheers and God Bless! Art Wallace