This week, a Forsyth County family and a community of friends, relatives and peers are mourning the loss of 16-year-old Ryan Haley, who was found in the Tennessee mountains last weekend having succumb to hypothermia — 10 days after being reported missing.
Haley, a resident of Cumming, junior at Mountain Education Charter School, skateboarder, hiker and outdoorsman, is described by his friends and family as selfless, loving, kind and, “willing to give up the shirt on his back if you needed it.”
“I hear this over and over from his friends: If anyone needed anything, Ryan would take care of it, and that’s definitely my Ryan,” said his mother, Robin Haley.
She said that her son loved the outdoors and sharing the places he visited with friends and family. She said that when thinking back through memories of Ryan, one thread held them all together: his love of nature.
“My son sums it up with this quote: ‘He shared himself with the people he loved through the places he loved,’” Robin Haley said, quoting 20-year-old son, Kyle.
One of Ryan Haley’s closest friends, 19-year-old Michael Little said that an important thing to note about his friend is that, at first glance Haley looked “tough”— a “don’t mess with me look” as Little put it.
But underneath it, he said, Haley was a caring, accepting person who seemed to see through to the core of people.
“For one, he had a huge heart, and he actually cared for other people,” Little said. “He looked at people for what was on the inside, as if he saw souls, and not faces.”
“He was one person I knew I could call whenever about anything and he would have my back,” he said.
Robin Haley said that beyond his love for the outdoors, music and hanging out with his friends, her son loved animals — both working and playing with them.
“And he was very good with animals … his brother says he loved animals more than people, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily true because he liked people and he made sure that he was there for his friends when they needed him,” she said.
According to his obituary from Ingram Funeral Home, Ryan Haley is survived by his parents Tom and Robin Haley, his older brother Kyle and his 8-year-old sister, Tina, as well as a host of other relatives and friends.
“He loved his little sister; he had an 8-year-old little sister that he absolutely adored. He was super proud of his big brother [Kyle], who played music … he would tell anyone that would listen how proud he was of his brother and that his brother was going to be a big star someday,” Robin Haley said.
“We are going to miss him so much,” she said.
The obituary for Haley stated that funeral services will be held Friday at 3 p.m. in the chapel of Ingram Funeral Home in Cumming.
In lieu of flowers, the obituary stated that donations may be made to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or to the Forsyth County Humane Society.