David Toole ’08 first met Michael R. Haines ’05 over the phone, when the two were chatting about Toole’s band, Identity X. Haines, who was a roommate of the band’s guitar player, Darin DiNapoli ’06, wanted to talk to Toole about his singing during a recent show.
“He told me that it was a good show, but that he wasn’t 100-percent impressed with my performance,” says Toole, who works as a freshman admissions counselor for RMU. “Talk about brutal honesty, and from someone I’d never even met before.” But Toole appreciated Haines’ candor. “He provided a lot of positive advice, too. Michael had seen a lot of concerts, and he told me that if I just focused on raising my level of energy, our shows would be a lot better. And he was right.”
On February 28, Haines, an armored truck guard for Garda Cash Logistics, was shot and killed by a co-worker, who stole $2 million from the vehicle. As of today, the suspect is still at large.
For Toole, who, along with Haines, is a member of RMU’s chapter of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, it was devastating news about a man who did so much to help others.
“Michael was the most selfless person on the entire face of the earth,” says Toole. “He never said no if someone asked him for help. He would just make it work and provide whatever we needed, even if it wasn’t convenient for him.”
Haines was one of the founding members of RMU’s Phi Delta Theta chapter and sat on the fraternity’s chapter advisory board. “He was very active in the fraternity and always telling the brothers about keeping their grades up and being the best version of themselves as they could be,” says Toole, who also serves on the advisory board.
DiNapoli also worked with Haines through Phi Delta Theta, and says he wants the world to know that there was more to his friend’s life than what we are hearing on the news. “Mike was a dedicated person and someone you could depend on to be there for you,” says DiNapoli. “He became actively involved in my life and truly made a difference. I’m really going to miss him.”
Immediately upon hearing the news, Toole, DiNapoli and other members of Phi Delta Theta began to think of ways to memorialize their fallen brother. They started a private Facebook page where people can post their memories of Haines. They also worked with Haines’ family and RMU’s development officers to begin a memorial fund in Haines’ name. Currently they’re in the early stages of planning a concert on the RMU campus as a fundraiser to support the scholarship.
“It’s the least we can do to honor the memory of someone who gave so much of himself for others,” says Toole.
“Mike was the link between the founders of our chapter and the active members,” says Michael K. Hortert ’07, M’10, who serves as advisory board chairman. “He made it his mission to make sure that the chapter was moving in a positive direction, especially in the areas of scholarship and recruitment. He had a passion for everything that he did on this earth, an undying loyalty to those who called him friend or brother, and truly was an inspiration to the men of Phi Delta Theta at Robert Morris University.
“It is that passion, that loyalty, and that inspiring nature that will live on through the chapter.”
If you’d like to contribute to the Phi Delta Theta/Michael R. Haines Memorial Scholarship, you can do so online at <http://www.rmu.edu/haines>. You can also donate by making a check out to “Robert Morris University” and sending it to: RMU, Office of Institutional Advancement, 6001 University Blvd., Moon Twp., PA 15108. (Please write “The Michael Haines Scholarship” somewhere on the check).