Donald Theodore Haller

October 24, 1928March 11, 2018
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Haller, Donald 10/24/28 – 3/11/18

Donald Theodore Haller, husband, father, marriage counselor and musician, died peacefully with his daughters at his side on Sunday morning March 11, 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan at age 89.

Donald was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 24, 1928 to Adele (Hoefs) and Hugo Haller. He was educated in the public schools of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated from Washington High School in 1946. He attended Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee, receiving a Teacher Certificate in 1948 and Diploma in 1949. Don served in the U.S. Navy in active duty from 1950-54, during the Korean War. He played French horn, trumpet and keyboard in the U.S. Navy Bands and was stationed on the Battleship Missouri.

On March 19, 1955 he married Lorraine Jean Brown of Bethel, Minnesota, daughter of Ethel and Louis Brown.

In 1957 he received a BA with honors from Michigan State University where he studied Music Therapy. Driven by his interest in the “therapy” aspect of his studies, he attended the University of Michigan Graduate School of Social Work, where he received a Masters Degree in Social Work in 1959. As a psychiatric social worker, Haller’s work experience included positions at Children’s Psychiatric Hospital in Dayton, Ohio (1959-61); Swedish-American Hospital in Rockford, Illinois (1965-70), and Children’s Psychiatric Hospital at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

From 1973-1993 Haller held the unique position of Marriage Counselor for Washtenaw County Friend of the Court, counseling couples who had filed for divorce – and in many cases, leading them toward reconciliation. During this time, he was a popular guest on Ted Heisel’s radio show (WHRV-AM), where he would take questions from call-in listeners.

Haller was a gifted keyboard player. During the 1990’s he performed frequently as an organist at horse shows in the U.S. and Canada, garnering acclaim from judges and riders alike for his ability to support the horses and riders with music that matched their style and gait.

From the 1970’s through the 1990’s, Haller performed frequently on theater organs at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, Redford Theatre in Redford, Michigan, and the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, where he opened for some of their major acts. In the 1980s he recorded, with a live audience, “Old-Time Sing-Along: 88 Favorite Songs Recorded with Audience on the Redford Theatre Organ.” Over the years he gave out hundreds of these “Sing-a-Long” CDs to friends and strangers alike, and found great joy in doing so.

Haller also volunteered as a pianist at hospitals and nursing homes in the Ann Arbor area.

Haller was a passionate advocate for those with intellectual and physical disabilities. He and Lorraine took loving care of his brother, Thomas (Tommy, b. 1935) throughout Tommy’s life, caring for him in their home during Tommy’s later years.

Donald was preceded in death by both parents and by his two brothers, Harold Haller and Thomas Haller. In addition to his wife, Lorraine, Donald is survived by his daughters Mary Haller (Kevin Donohoe) and Carol Lander (Robert); and grandchildren Lori Donohoe, John Lander and Ben Lander.

Donald loved the majesty of the theater organ and its range of sounds, from the deep bass notes of the pedal pipes to car horns and bird whistles. But his true satisfaction was found in the collective voices of an audience singing along as he played "God Bless America" or "Edelweiss" in a darkened theater, or the smiles of children gathered around the large horseshoe-shaped keyboard as he performed. He was equally at home strolling the aisles of Costco and chatting with the greeters, handing out his CD to fellow customers at Lucas Coney Island, and enjoying a quiet boat ride on the Island Queen at Kensington Park with his beloved wife Lorraine.

Visitation will be at Muehlig Funeral Chapel, 403 S. Fourth Avenue, Ann Arbor, on Sunday, March 18, from 10:30am-12noon. Funeral services to follow immediately afterward at Muehlig at 12noon (Rev. Melissa Anne Rogers officiating). Donald will be laid to rest at Forest Hill Cemetery, 415 Observatory St, Ann Arbor on Monday, March 19, at the 3:00 pm with military honors under the auspices of the Veteran's Honor Guard of Washtenaw County.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, 2025 Traverwood Suite F, Ann Arbor, MI 48105-2197.


  • Visitation Sunday, March 18, 2018
  • Funeral Service Sunday, March 18, 2018
  • Laid to rest with military honors under the auspices of the Veteran's Honor Guard of Washtenaw County. Monday, March 19, 2018

Donald Theodore Haller

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John Schaefer

March 28, 2018

Don was part of our family in so many ways. Though I'm not sure what the relationship is called, it doesn't matter. Easter always meant going to Hallers' and having Don play organ and Harold sing to round out a great day. I'm not sure why I was so lucky as to get to spend a couple of weeks in the summer with the "Michigan Hallers" but it was truly transformative. Don taught me a few notes to "The Entertainer" that I can play 45 years later. He demonstrated compassion during a challenging part of my life and always spoke so warmly of my other family members that he grew up with. So many memories but the only way to close is as he did during the family music sessions... Shave and a haircut - GO BLUE!

Christy Pingle

March 23, 2018

Dear Lorraine, Mary and Carol, On behalf of everyone at the Water Street Inn we are so sorry for your loss. One of my favorite memories of Don was here at the Inn when he told me he had brought his keyboard along one summer and had the sliding door open. He saw young ones playing outside so he started playing music. When they heard it, he said they started dancing along sweet. Love and hugs to you all, Christy

Nicole C

March 22, 2018

I’m so sorry for your loss. May you find comfort in God’s promise of a resurrection where we will be reunited with our loved ones who have passed away and will never be separated by death again - John 5:28, 29; Revelation 21:3,4

Sandy Kluck Tomlinson

March 19, 2018

I feel so fortunate to have known a family friend in Don for well over 60 years! His joyful and thoughtful nature made him a pleasure to be around.
So thankful for the memories!
My sincere sympathy and love to Carol, Mary and their family. Sandy Tomlinson

Jodie Brown Boderman

March 18, 2018

Dear Aunt Lorraine, Mary and Carol and families-- I am thinking of you today and wishing I was there to help you celebrate the life of your wonderful husband and dad. Thank you for posting the great pictures. It is comforting to those who are not physically with you and they beautifully capture Uncle Don and all he was and loved most.

Visits to and from the Haller cousins were always a highlight and I am glad to have many memories and wish, of course, we could always have more. Uncle Don was always such a presence-- fun and cheerful, steady and encouraging, and full of wise counsel! I have always admired Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Don's devotion to each other, and certainly more and more as the years have gone by. He was always so proud of both of you, Mary and Carol!

Please know I am holding you all in love always, but especially today.

Jodie Brown Boderman

Michael Kluck

March 16, 2018

Dearest Lorraine, Mary and Carol,
I was so sad to hear Don has left us behind. He has left behind fond memories with me and thus, he is not gone.
I had never left the State of Michigan as a child until one day he put me in the Rambler and off we went to Ohio. What a trip and the car even had inside air vents. A visit to the National Cash Register Company and a drive by the bus manufacturing company in Lima are indelibly imprinted in my memories of the time spent with him. There were the times we chased gophers and watched a wren lay eggs and hatch babies in the spring. I loved when he played the church organ always with a world class smile on his face. When I took the State Bar of Michigan I stayed with you, Lorraine, and Don was there to cheer me on and take a picture of me holding a Teddy Bear with a distant look on my face that said "what just happened". My life is better and more complete because of his. I send my deepest condolences to you. I thank you for sharing the memory of his life with me.
Love, Mike Kluck

Darlene Brown

March 13, 2018

Dear Mary and Carol, I wrote a “several paragraphs memory” and condolences with much love to both of you, and your families, and it disappeared.😟 Your dad would especially appreciate it, with his great sense of humor. 🤗 I tried to “find it,” and can’t, so just know that you are very dearly loved by your mom and dad; you have been the very best, dedicated, loving, faithful daughters, through this very long, difficult journey, especially with your dad, who gave it his “best!” I love you. ❤️❤️ Aunt Darlene.