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Jay Michael Haft

SALISBURY — Jay Michael Haft of New York, son of Helen and Jack Haft, passed away on Feb. 7, 2022, at the age of 86. The world has lost a great husband, father, grandfather and leader.

Born in Brooklyn on Nov.  9, 1935, Jay attended the Horace Mann School before graduating from Yale College, and then Yale Law School. After starting his legal career with an established law firm based in New York City, Jay started his own law firm with several friends and colleagues, which grew to be more than 100 lawyers in New York City, Florida and Long Island. Jay was widely regarded as a preeminent corporate lawyer, frequently structuring and leading complex transactions that were novel and innovative, and that are now regarded as commonplace.   

Over the course of practicing law for many years, Jay served and partnered with global business and political leaders and participated on the board of directors of many well-known privately- and publicly-held companies.   Later in his life, Jay moved on from the practice of law into international venture capital and technology finance, where he continued to follow his love for advising and participating in intricate and significant financial and political opportunities and transactions.

Jay was also a philanthropist, and he contributed his immense knowledge and critical thinking to a number of institutions and organizations in the various communities around the world.   He served as a member of the Florida Commission for Government Accountability to the People, a national trustee and Treasurer of the Miami City Ballet, and a Board member of the Concert Association of Florida. Jay also served as a trustee of Florida International University Foundation and as a member of the advisory board of the Wolfsonian Museum and Florida International University Law School.

Jay was also a “collector of collections,” amassing important collections of African and other art, rare books, unique cars, and even toys, among other things.  He was a well-read man who had a great sense and appreciation of history, yet he never took himself or anyone else too seriously. His wit, self-effacing humor and practical approach to life made Jay stand out as a person whom so many people loved and admired. Yet, despite his many interests and passions, starting with his family, Jay was always available to provide his guidance and help to others in his life. When people in Jay’s life were facing a dilemma or issue, whether rooted in personal or business matters, they would inevitably contact Jay for his thoughtful and practical advice. He was  a person whose opinions carried significance and meaning.

Jay is survived by Clayre, his beloved wife of 40 years; his children, Jackie and James, and their mother, his first wife, Elsa Daspin Suisman; his stepson, Andrew; his son-in-law, Carl, and his former daughter-in-law, Simone; and his eight grandchildren, Frances, Harrison, Harry, Isaac, Jacob, Jake, Jesse and Max.

A graveside service was held Feb. 9 at Cedar and Beth-El Cemetary in Paramus, N.J.

Local arrangements were under the care of the Newkirk-Palmer Funeral Home.

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