John N. DeHaas

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John N. DeHaas, Jr., passed away peacefully on April 7. John was born on July 4, 1926, in Philadelphia to parents John N. DeHaas and Sadie (Hagel) DeHaas. They lived there until John was in high school, at which time his family moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where he graduated. After high school he attended Texas A & M University, earning his bachelor's degree in architectural design in 1948. He later received a master's degree in education, also from Texas A&M. John was teaching in Texas when he met and married Bernice Wallace in 1950.

John was offered a one-year position at Montana State College (now Montana State University) in 1951 then stayed until he retired from MSU in 1980. He became a registered architect within a few years of his arrival and designed a number of homes in the Bozeman area.

John was an inspirational teacher. He enjoyed his students and took great delight in leading student field trips, both long ones during spring breaks and day trips to area historic towns and to ghost towns. John imbued his students with a sense of the importance of preservation of the physical traces of Montana's history. This is one of his legacies.

John became fascinated by the history of Montana and its reflection in Montana's architecture. He was especially enamored of the state's ghost towns and made many trips across the state with his late friend Ivan Ellerkamp to visit and photograph them. In 1972 he co-founded the Montana Ghost Town Preservation Society in which he remained active for almost 40 years. His book, Historic Uptown Butte, chronicled the buildings of Butte many of which were in danger of being demolished due to urban renewal programs. He gave many public talks, slide shows, and guided tours to Montana's ghost towns. He published an article on the Bozeman City Hall and Opera House in Montana: The Magazine of Western History. Photography was a passion for John who documented the history and variety of Montana through the camera's lens. He won many awards for his beautiful and stirring photographs. Many of his photos were published in magazines and books.

He believed in public service and through the years was a member of the Bozeman City Planning Commission, Zoning Board, and Historic Preservation Advisory Board. He also served on the state Historic Preservation Advisory Board and most recently was a member of the Gallatin County Historic Preservation Board.

Although he lost his sight to a hereditary eye disease, John remained active. Accepting his blindness as an inconvenience rather than an insurmountable barrier, he maintained his interest and advocacy for preservation and added support for the blind and the Montana Association for the Blind and its Summer Orientation Program to his activities. He was president of the local MAB chapter for many years and served on the MAB state Board of Directors for about 20 years as well as president of the state association for one term.

On the national level, he was a member of the American Institute of Architects and served on its Historic Resources Committee. In 1984, the AIA inducted him into its College of Fellows for his services in preservation and for integrating that interest into his teaching to motivate his students.

John is survived by his wife, Bernice, son, Kenneth, daughter, Jocelyn, sister, Bernice Killen and a number of nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Beverly Jones. He was a friend, mentor and advocate for many; he will be missed.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Montana Association for the Blind Endowment Fund at P.O. Box 465 Helena, MT. 59624, the Gallatin County Historical Society Pioneer Museum at 317 W. Main, Bozeman, MT 59715, or to the charity of your choice.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, April 11, at the Bozeman United Methodist Church.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.

Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Apr. 10, 2011
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