JOHN C., 92, philanthropist, champion of community service and a retired chairman of the Rohm and Haas Company died Saturday, April 2 at his home in Villanova. Mr. Haas spent his professional career with Rohm and Haas, the global specialty chemicals company his father, Otto Haas, co-founded. Beginning as a process engineer at the Rohm and Haas Bridesburg plant in Philadelphia, Mr. Haas held a number of positions in various locations within the company and eventually transferred to the "people side" of the business. His role at Rohm and Haas allowed him to pursue his passion for helping people both inside and outside the company. While he was committed to the business, he was devoted to his family and his philanthropy.
After his father's death in 1960, Mr. Haas was appointed executive vice president at Rohm and Haas, supporting his brother, F. Otto Haas, who became president and chief executive officer. Mr. Haas was also named chairman of the William Penn Foundation, created in 1945 by his father and his mother, Phoebe Waterman Haas, in response to social problems following World War II. Five years ago, Mr. Haas and his wife, Chara, founded the Stoneleigh Foundation, devoting their personal estate to help serve the needs of vulnerable and underserved children and youth.
Mr. Haas was very active with the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, serving for a time as its president, and also with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He was a staunch advocate for the Rev. Leon Sullivan's Opportunities Industrialization Center for America (OIC). He was also a founding leader of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in 1976, and served as Trustee until it was absorbed into the Pennsylvania Historical Society in 2002. Mr. Haas was a member of the Board of Governors of Temple University Health System and also a trustee emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was an avid supporter of Natural Lands Trust.
Mr. Haas attended Amherst College where he received his A.B. degree in 1940. He went on to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to earn a M.S. degree in chemical engineering in 1942. Mr. Haas served as a U.S. Naval Officer in World War II.
Mr. Haas embraced family life. He shared with his wife and children a love of travel, as well as a lifelong passion for hiking and the outdoors.
Mr. Haas is survived by his wife, a daughter, Barbara, his sons David, Leonard, Frederick, and Duncan and 10 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his brother in 1994.
A private service will be held for the family, and a memorial service is planned for a later date.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of John Haas may be directed to the Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia (Attn: Development Department, 1518 Walnut St., Suite 605, Philadelphia, PA 19102) or The United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania (Attn: Memorial Gifts, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103).
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