Obituary Details

Seymour Leon Halleck

April 16, 1929 - August 22, 2016

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Seymour L. Halleck, M.D. (Sy) passed away at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina on August 22, 2016 at the age of 87. Sy was born in Chicago, Illinois to Irving and Eva Halleck. He was married for almost 66 years to the love of his life, Helen, whom he met when they were 13 years old. August 27 would have been their 66th anniversary.

Sy an alumnus of the University of Chicago, began his undergraduate studies at the age of 16, and was accepted into a six-year, undergraduate/medical school program. He received his medical school degree in 1951. After graduating from medical school, Sy enlisted in the U.S. Public Health Service, which was then a branch of the Navy. He attained the rank of Captain and served as a physician to servicemen at the Presidio in San Francisco. He was then transferred to provide heath care to prisoners at the federal prison in Springfield, Missouri. At the age of 25 he was put in charge of all the mentally ill prisoners, which sparked his lifelong interest in the field of forensic psychiatry. This led to a residency in psychiatry at the Menninger Clinic, in Topeka, Kansas. Upon completion, he accepted a position on the Medical School faculty at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Sy’s career thrived here, where he became Director of Student Health-Psychiatry during the turbulent 1960’s. HIs observations on young people attracted a wide audience and he was a sought-after speaker on this topic. He was also an adjunct professor at the Law School and a huge fan of the Badger football team.

While in academia, he also continued his forensic work by providing mental health services to inmates in the Wisconsin prison system, setting up one of the first sex offender treatment units within a prison. He also wrote his first of six books during this busy time in his life, Psychiatry and the Dilemmas of Crime. He authored over 200 articles, and was a co-author of hundreds of additional articles.

In 1972, Sy and Helen decided to relocate once again, this time to escape Wisconsin winters. After considering a number of offers in warmer climates, Sy selected the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as his next career challenge. He was Director of Residency Training at UNC and loved this work, as well as his teaching at UNC Law School. His career continued to prosper at UNC and he also became an avid fan of the UNC Tarheel basketball team. Sy not only loved watching his beloved Tarheels, but also played in pick up games at Woollen Gym, three times a week until the age of 68. Upon his retirement from the University (and from playing in pick-up games), his “jersey” was retired to the rafters of Woollen Gym and Dean Smith presented him with a UNC basketball autographed by the entire team.

In 1969. Dr. Halleck was one of the founding members of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL). He was the 1980 recipient of the American Psychiatric Association/AAPL’s, Isaac Ray Award for outstanding contributions to forensic psychiatry. He also served as a consultant to the FBI for many years.

Later in his career,Dr Halleck became a sought-after expert witness in criminal cases. He did not generally testify in insanity defense cases, but often testified in cases where the death penalty was sought. A passionate opponent of the death penalty, he successfully testified in the sentencing phases of a number of high profile cases , including the Unabomber and Susan Smith trials, in order to mitigate the sentence.

Sy’s concern and compassion for persons suffering from mental illness did not stop when he retired. In retirement, Sy, along with Helen , was a long time advisory council member of Club Nova, a local organization devoted to assist individuals in recovery from the effects of mental illness.

Dr. Halleck was predeceased by his parents and his older brother, Marvin. He is survived by and will be deeply missed by his wife, Helen, his daughters, Nancy Halleck (Tom Hart) of Saratoga Springs, NY, Judith Marks (John) of Raleigh, NC, and Betsy Giduz (Tom) of Chapel Hill, NC; four grandsons, Danny Marks, Jameson Marks (Hilary), Matthew Hart, Jeffrey Hart (Anna), two granddaughters, Kate and Natalie Giduz; and two great-grandsons, Elijah Marks, and Brandon Hart. He is also survived by his three nephews and two nieces, and by many cousins who adored him and will miss his wise counsel, his wit, and his compassion.

A Memorial service to celebrate the life of Sy Halleck will be held on September 24, 2016 at the Renaissance Funeral Home at 7615 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, NC 27615 at 10:00 a.m. A luncheon will be served at the home of Judy and John Marks after the service.

In Lieu of flowers, contributions to Club Nova, of Carrboro, NC (www.clubnova.org) would be appreciated.
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stephen wiener
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April 18, 2019
IN 1974 I SPENT A SEMESTER MEETING WITH DR HALLECK ABOUT PSYCHIATRY IN THE FUTURE. HE WAS A WONDERFUL TEACHER AND I HAVE ALWAYS REMEMBERED THOSE MEETINGS.
STEPHEN WIENER, MD
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Danna Richards
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September 9, 2016
Years have never faded the joy that it was to know Sy and to have the wonderful and rare experience of having worked with him and shared the joy of writing on works he was completing. Sy was generous to a fault in his way of bringing you to the best of who you were or could be and do so in ever so subtle ways. Psychiatry and the Law was a work that gave me the joy of working with Sy for that edition. I have never forgotten him telling me never to move anything in his office because he knew where every piece was and so he did. I have cherished the memory of having been blessed in knowing him and will always remember him with fond memories of a small time long ago that was special with the opportunity to work within someone so caring. My deep condolences to his lovely family who will all miss him as will so many of us who were lucky enough to have known him.
Danna Richards
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Elliot Silverstein
Posted on:
September 9, 2016
Sy was always supportive and gracious to me. One thing I always looked forward to was when we did the forensic lectures for the psychiatry residents. I marveled at how insightful and profound his observations and advice were, all presented in a light, breezy manner that belied the depth of his thinking. After Sy retired, it was still comforting to me knowing he was in the area. Helen and family, I am so sorry for your loss. Best. Elliot Silverstein
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linda newmark
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August 28, 2016
Memories of Sy and the Halleck family are cherished. With sympathy to Helen, Nancy, Judy and Betsy and their families. Love-Linda and Chuck Newmark and family
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charles s newmark
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August 28, 2016
Sy unofficially served as my mentor during my tenure in the Dept. of Psychiatry. We became close friends and I especially enjoyed our lunchtime basketball games. We played on a city league team together and surprisingly won the championship. He was a brilliant man who provided invaluable advice and was always willing to lilsten. He made a valuable and significant contribution to the field of psychiatry. This kind, caring and compassionate man will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him. Sincerely condolences to his family. Chuck Newmark
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Karen Kincaid Dunn
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August 25, 2016
Dear Helen and Family:

Club Nova sends our deep, heartfelt condolences. Sy was amazing and extraordinary. It was a gift to have Sy and you, Helen, on our Board of Directors. Your care, compassion, and service with such an extraordinary community continues to make a difference in the lives of our members living with mental illness.

With Love,
Karen and the Club Nova Community
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