The Jacksonville Civic Council Board and partners mourn the tremendous loss of Dr. Leon Haley, M.D., CEO of UF Health Jacksonville. Dr. Haley leaves behind an inspiring legacy of care and civic engagement.

Dr. Haley was an active part of the Jacksonville Civic Council and was selflessly dedicated to our community. While he held many titles and played many roles, we honor Dr. Haley’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Dr. Haley’s direction, UF Health Jacksonville became the first hospital in Florida to administer the COVID-19 vaccine and Dr. Haley was the first Floridian to receive the vaccine.

May his legacy live on in our dedication to each other and to the greater good.

Jacksonville Civic Council members on Dr. Leon Haley:

“The community doesn’t even yet know what we are missing with his passing; his vision for caring health care will be suspended until we can all gather our wits. RIP”

  • John Delaney, Chairman, Jacksonville Civic Council

“I came to know Dr Leon Haley through our professional association involving UF Health and Florida Blue. That early association quickly included a variety of community and charitable affiliations including the JCC and the National Medical Association and their work to help advance minority medical candidates. Leon was a friend, a man of action and a deeply caring person who was always ready help drive the efforts we undertook together to protect our community from Covid 19. I will sorely miss Leon’s enthusiasm, his smile and his joy for life and commitment to our community.”

  • Pat Geraghty, President & CEO, Guidewell Mutual Holdings Corporation

“Dr. Haley was a quintessential leader representing the perfect combination of extraordinary leadership, humility, courage, service and action. It was an honor to work alongside of him while serving members of our community. We should honor him by continuing to advance his personal mission. I will miss him as a colleague, brother and friend.”

  • Darnell Smith, Market President, North Florida Region, Florida Blue

“Leon was a trusted friend, colleague, physician, and a worthy competitor. He was always full of class and while we competed at a high level as CEOs of different systems, he was incredibly collaborative and professional on matters of public health policy to improve the lives of the greater Jacksonville community. He will be incredibly missed and his legacy in many areas will continue on for the foreseeable future.”

  • Bradley S. Talbert, CEO, Memorial Hospital Jacksonville

“Dr. Leon L. Haley, Jr. was an exceptionally gifted physician, an exemplary leader, and a close personal friend. I developed deep respect and admiration for not only what he accomplished and the depth of his lived experience, but how he led and comported himself. Dr. Haley was as genuine, humble, and transparent as he was intellectually and scientifically intelligent, emotionally intelligent, and courageous. Leon was one of those rare individuals who made you feel special in his presence. Our community is better for his time with us, and I am better for God having crossed our paths. Rest In Peace, my good friend. You are so deeply missed.”

  • Thomas VanOsdol, CEO, Ascension/St. Vincent’s North Florida and Gulf Coast

“It is hard to find words that express the tremendous sense of loss and sadness I feel with the passing of my good friend and colleague, Dr. Leon Haley. He was the man you wanted to be – a compassionate caregiver, a loving father, a true advocate for the vulnerable, a trusted friend. Beyond everything else, I miss him. His leadership at UF Health and in the community leaves a lasting impact on thousands. My prayers are with his family and loved ones.”

  • Jason Barrett, President & CEO Flagler Health+

“Dr. Leon Haley was a transformational leader and a personal friend whose loss is felt not only by his family, friends, and colleagues but also by the patients he served and the community he loved. It was an honor to work with Dr. Haley in the Jacksonville community, and his thoughtful support, collaborative engagement, and committed leadership will be greatly missed. The health and connectedness of our community will be positively impacted for decades to come as a direct result of Dr. Haley’s leadership. My heartfelt condolences go out to Dr. Haley’s family, friends, and the entire community as together we navigate this great loss.”

  • Kent Thielen, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Mayo Clinic in Florida

“Dr. Leon Haley’s untimely passing is a tragic loss to our community, to UF Health, his friends, and most importantly his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this most difficult time. He will be greatly missed.”

  • Gray Chartrand, Emeritus 

“Dr. Leon Haley, jr. exemplified the best in all of us. He was brilliant yet understated. He was passionate about the most important issues facing our community, and never shied away from fighting for them. To me, he was simply a gift. He will be forever missed.”

  • David Miller, Chairman, Brightway Insurance

“Everyone shares that Dr. Haley was an inspirational leader. He was that and more. He was a trailblazer ready to step into a new community and take on big issues in an intelligent and thoughtful way. I am sad with his loss that his energetic engagement and strong desire to impact Jax will have a void. He was quickly stepping up to assist those areas of town who needed a friend and leader they could trust. He also had the ability to offer up candid ideas of how we could serve those areas at the same time encouraging them to engage and help their neighbors. Leon was personable with a huge smile and sincere desire to get to know each person he met. Whether you were the mayor or a low-level employee he treated those he spoke to with respect. He also cared deeply about his family. He bragged about his kids. He also was very proud of his UF Shands Team with him taking a back seat in highlighting their accomplishments. We will continue to pray and think of his family and work family. He had a tremendous impact on our community and will not be forgotten… God speed Dr. Haley.”

  • Cindy Stover, North Florida Market President, TD Bank

“Dr. Haley had a bold vision for UF Health and the tenacity and drive to make it happen. The plans address some long overdue investments in infrastructure and new and needed advancements that will significantly improve services to patients and health outcomes for our entire region. It is imperative that we continue to push forward on his vision. It will be difficult without Dr. Haley’s leadership, deep commitment, and the trust that he built in this community. We must honor his memory by pulling together to make his dream for UF Health in Jacksonville a reality.”   

  • Nina Waters, President, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida

“Leon was a good friend, a devoted father and an incredible asset to our community. He was a wonderful leader and role model who in a short time in Jacksonville made a big impact. He had boundless energy and was always available to his colleagues, his co-workers, and his friends. His smile, his wisdom and his counsel will be missed by us all.”

  • Marty Fiorentino, President, The Fiorentino Group

“I was shocked and saddened to hear of Leon’s passing which is a tragedy under any circumstances but particularly so because Leon was such a caring and impactful person in so many ways.  My first thoughts were for his grieving family and that it will be an enormous task to fill his shoes if it is even possible.  I was so impressed by his outreach on numerous issues in the community. From the time of his arrival in Jacksonville he made every effort to be a contributor to the very fabric of this community. He took this on in addition to his role as the man responsible for the care of many of our citizens through his leadership of UF Health Jacksonville. His contributions were particularly meaningful as we navigated the past year of COVID 19 and the many challenges of the political environment. He was an exceptional man, and we will miss his great intelligence, warm manner and caring soul.”

  • Lynn Pappas, Gunster (Ret.)

“I served on Leon’s Board at UF health Jacksonville, he was an inspirational and transformational leader who exuded confidence – Although he was new at the hospital you felt he had been there his entire career. I also got to know him on a personal level, I traveled with him on numerous occasions to attend sporting events and outings with friends, he was funny, genuine, and humble, and he easily fit in with everyone. He took the time to learn your family members names and generally took interest in your life. As I have reflected on his impact these past few days – it’s hard to imagine he had only been our community for 5 years – and yet he has touched so many people – just a remarkable accomplished man that made a lasting impact in my life.”

  • Michael Santarone, CEO, Stellar

“Saturday evening was tough. Leon was a friend that always greeted you with a smile that instantly made you comfortable.  You then realized you were talking to a rare person … a super intelligent, gifted leader that people listened to and were ready to follow. But, that’s only part of what made him rare. It also was his compassion, his quiet confidence, and his engaging ear.  When you talked to Leon, you knew he was listening.  He may not have agreed with what you were saying, but he would listen. Then he would share his point of view with you. And, even if you didn’t agree with him, you knew his point of view was grounded in doing what was right. That’s what put him in a special category of human being. He cared about the people around him more than he cared about himself. And man, he always did it with a smile.  I will miss him dearly, and our community has a hole in it that will take time to heal. We needed a lot more time with Leon, but I am thankful we got to borrow him for the amount of time we did. We all are better off for it. Godspeed Leon Haley.”

  • G. Ray Driver, Jr., Founding Partner, Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow, PLLC

“While I only met him through this forum and through Zoom because of the pandemic – his leadership and character were inspirational and humbling. He opened his heart and shared his own experiences as part of the racial and social justice discussions, educating us all, and moving us forward as a community. I wish his family and friends peace, and hearts full of joy, as they share their memories.”

  • Diana Sorfleet, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, CSX

“Dr. Haley was an esteemed leader of one of Jacksonville’s most important community institutions, but he always led with a servant’s heart. He never forgets that health care was about making people and families whole, in all respects of life. As an example, I recall a time when a member of our office suffered the tragic loss of a son. Due to some regulatory issues, the family was having difficulty in completing funeral arrangements and providing the son with the type of a personal farewell the family desired. I asked Dr. Haley to look into the matter and delays that were occurring. Within in an hour he had personally intervened, corrected the situation, and brought peace of mind to the family  In the midst of what was assuredly a busy day, Dr. Haley could have easily delegated the task to someone else or ignored it altogether. But he personally resolved the issue. I am sure that his act of kindness was only one of many that day. Godspeed Leon.”

  • Kevin E. Hyde, President & CEO, Foley& Lardner LLP

“Some communities are fortunate to have new leaders arrive at just the right time. Over the past few years, Jacksonville has been so fortunate to benefit from Dr. Haley’s insights and true leadership in action, at a pivotal time in our community, our state, and our country. Dr. Haley exemplified the type of leadership that provides great impact in a wise, collaborative, action-oriented, and expertise-based manner. The seeds he planted will continue to drive our community forward in the months and years ahead. Our hearts are heavy but our will to continue on will always be inspired by his legacy.”

  • Dave Sweeney, CEO, RS&H

“Once in a while you meet someone who simply makes you better.  Through their actions, words, messages; through their everyday example, these rare people help inspire, encourage, and flat out cause you to want to be better. Leon is that person for me. I vividly remember our very first meeting just after he became CEO. He was gracious, candid and immediately and genuinely offered to help me and United Way be successful. We talked about family, and he spoke glowingly of his children and family. I recall trying to get clear on his title and roles – I was in awe of the fact that he held 3 different positions, any one of which by itself was a full-time impressive role.  So it is that much more impressive that I have never once known him to say “no” to any important request – and there were sooooo many requests. His name would always be on top of the list of people to lead various efforts for United Way and many other key organizations in our city. I would always find myself amazed that he said yes to our requests AND especially how he actively participated. When the pandemic first began and things shut down and we were facing a big potential deficit, we had a special meeting of our resource development (fundraising committee). I kicked off the meeting saying that “I’m sure Dr. Haley will not be able to join us with all that he is juggling at the hospital”. But, sure enough, there he was on Zoom, saying “no, this is important and I’m ready to help”. It brought tears to my eyes then and now. He was always calm, reassuring, prepared and positive. I simply cannot put into words the impact he had on me and my team. He was a bright light and the absolute best example of a leader. He made me then and makes me now, more than ever, want to be better. What a powerful legacy that is! Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Dr. Leon Haley was a shining example of that vision for us all and we are ALL better for having him a part of our community.”

  • Michelle Braun, President & CEO, United Way of Northeast Florida

“The unexpected passing of Dr Leon Haley hit all of us hard, as Dr Haley has been a trusted friend, role model, and confidant on so many important issues this past turbulent year. Just recently (at a Civic Council event), Dr Haley and I discussed the new Veterans Initiative he championed at UF Health bringing comprehensive brain health care to Northeast Florida.  As always, Dr Haley offered to collaborate openly, bringing world class medical care to Veterans in need in the NE Florida region. Dr Haley was a brilliant leader, and a person with whom you have a conversation easily, even some of the most sensitive topics. I’ll miss him, and know his legacy lives on in the lives he touched over his years of making Jacksonville (and Atlanta) the special communities they are. With profound condolences (and respect), for the entire Haley (and UF Health) family,”

  • Mike Linnington, CEO, Wounded Warrior Project

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