Evelyn Haas Remembered for Humor, Generosity


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Evelyn Danzig Haas, campus benefactress and noted patron of the arts throughout the Bay Area, passed away Feb. 3 in San Francisco following a longtime illness. She was 92.

Known to many as "Evie," Haas and her husband Walter A. Haas, Jr.-a UC Berkeley alumnus who passed away in 1995-are credited with jump-starting donations for the construction of UC Berkeley's Haas Pavilion with an $11 million gift.

Altogether, the Evelyn and Walter A. Haas, Jr. Fund has donated $34 million to the campus, $27 million of which was directed to the campus department of intercollegiate athletics, according to UC Berkeley Director of Campaign Communications Jose Rodriguez. The Haas family and extended relations also have made numerous personal contributions to the campus.

Among the most prominent family names associated with the campus, the Haases, which include Peter Haas and Rhoda Haas Goldman, are relatives of Levi Strauss, founder of Levi Strauss & Co. who endowed several UC Berkeley scholarships.

"Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. loved UC Berkeley, and the university was fortunate to have held a special place in their lives," Rodriguez said in an e-mail. "They were philanthropists and volunteer leaders of the highest order. Cal students and faculty today benefit in many ways from their generosity- as will future generations."

In 1989, the three children of Walter A. Haas, Sr., the UC Berkeley alumnus after which the Haas School of Business is named, provided $15 million for the construction of the business school's current building.

The Haas family foundations donated another $8.75 million for the building's construction in 1992.

According to the business school's Web site, this major contribution was the largest contribution in the history of the campus up to that time.

Evelyn Haas graduated from Wheaton College in Massachusetts in 1939. Alhough she was not a UC Berkeley alumna herself, friends said Haas held a genuinely strong affection and commitment to the campus.

In addition to her frequent attendance of campus athletic events and other campus activities, she and her husband raised three UC Berkeley alumni.

"For the Haases, we jokingly like to say, 'It's life, liberty and the pursuit of Cal,'" said Ira Hirschfield, president of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, who knew Evelyn Haas for nearly 30 years.

While the Haas family has made a name for itself at UC Berkeley, Evelyn Haas may be more well-known as a patron of the arts in the Bay Area. Hirschfield said Evelyn Haas was generous with her time, serving as a trustee and leader on several boards, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and San Francisco Symphony.

"She was not only a philanthropist but a full-time volunteer," Hirschfield said, calling Haas a "roll-up-your-sleeves type of person."

While Evelyn Haas and her husband owned the Oakland Athletics from 1980 to 1995, the couple spearheaded "community relations" to make the major league baseball team more active throughout the community.

"They were so generous in their time and commitment and money to making baseball be more than just baseball and having it be an opportunity to support people," said Dave Perron, former director of community relations for the A's.

Earl Cheit, professor emeritus and dean emeritus of the Haas school who has known the Haases since the 1970s, said Evelyn Haas' passion for equity and social justice was complemented by her warm, fun-loving personality. He said she possessed "a great sense of humor" and was an avid fly-fisher.

"She lived a great life in so many different spheres," Cheit said.

Haas is survived by her children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service for Evelyn Haas has been scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco.


Contact Angelica Dongallo at [email protected]

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