James Martin Haas, emeritus professor of historical studies at Southern Illlinois University Edwardsville and longtime St. Louis resident, died Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Pullman at Bishop Place Retirement Community. He was 92.
Jim was born in Milwaukee to Oscar M. Haas, DDS, and Marion E. Isermann Haas. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for three years, and graduated from Marquette University and received the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, both in history, from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Jim joined the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville faculty in 1961 and fell in love with St. Louis. He was driven by a deep and enthusiastic love of teaching and scholarship, and taught British and early modern European history until he retired from SIUE in 1995. His well-received study “A Management Odyssey: The Royal Dockyards, 1714-1914” (1994) included exhaustive research in the National Archives of the U.K. and the Sessional Papers of the House of Commons. It was adopted as readings for seminars at Exeter and Portsmouth universities in the U.K. The economic historian Sidney Pollard wrote that “There can be few studies to equal such precise details and so much intelligent insight into the internal workings of an industry for the period concerned.” Jim’s passion for history never deserted him: He published his last academic article at the age of 89 in the Mariner’s Mirror.
He was an irrepressible contributor to the letters pages of newspapers in the U.S. and the U.K., especially to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Wall Street Journal published 15 of his letters when he was 18 years old, including a reply, written at the request of the newspaper’s editor, to an article in the Journal by the economist Sir Norman Angell. Jim was also the last coordinator of the old SIUE Public Service Broadcasting programs on the university’s radio station, and doubled the number of participating academic units when he took over.
Jim married Mary Jo Russell of Indiana in 1959, and they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in August 2019. They lived near SIUE, first in Illinois and later in Spanish Lake, Miss., and then in Kirkwood, Miss., after his retirement. In 2012, they moved to Pullman to be near their son, Kevin James Haas, professor of art at Washington State University. Jim was a global traveler well into his 80s and an avid gardener and lap-swimmer, which he did until he was diagnosed with cancer in October 2019.
Jim is survived by his wife; their son; a sister, Mary Noeske, of Mequon, Wis.; a brother, Richard Haas, of Waukesha, Wis.; and numerous nieces and nephews. His sister, Barbara Snyder, predeceased him. Kimball Funeral Home of Pullman has been entrusted with arrangements. No public services are being planned for this time. Online condolences may be sent to www.kimballfh.com.