In Memoriam – Walter Haas

LEEDS – Dr. Walter Alexander Haas, 86, of Leeds, died peacefully on the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, surrounded by family and friends.


Walter was born in the small town of Neumarkt, Germany, to Frieda and Semi Haas. He would recall with fondness running about his grandfather’s farm reading and climbing plum trees. His memories were always more playful than most would expect from someone who had been persecuted for being Jewish.


In 1941, at the age of 14, his parents sent him to America on one of the last kindertransports. He lived in foster homes in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attended and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. His family, meanwhile were sent to concentration camps where his older sister Ilse, 18 at the time, and parents were murdered by the Nazis. His older brother Ernest survived and was reunited with Walter after the war.


Walter served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Europe after the war. Following his service he went on to City College and New York University for a doctorate in psychology.


He met his wife Florence of 61 years while walking along the 30th Street boardwalk at the Rockaways in New York. For their first date Walter dissected a frog, hoping to impress Florence, which they would often laugh about later. The two settled in New Jersey where Walter had a private psychology practice for 42 years. Together they raised their children Heidi and Scott.

Walter and his wife moved to Leeds in 1996 to be closer to their daughter and her family and as a result became very involved in the local community. He also traveled often with his wife and loved pastries, the smelliest cheese and chocolate marzipan, and could tell you the precise directions to the best bakery, cheese shop or chocolatier in any city he had visited, of which there were many.


He was a kind, loving man who will be remembered for his goofiness, big heart and resilience.


He was predeceased by his wife Florence Haas.


He will be dearly missed by his children Scott Haas and his wife Laura of Cambridge and Heidi Haas and her husband Fred Hooven of Northampton, and his brother Ernest Haas of Montvale, N.J. He also leaves his grandchildren Molly and Abigail Haas-Hooven and Nick and Madeline Haas as well as many wonderful cousins, nieces, nephews and close friends.


A service was held Monday, Dec. 30, officiated by Rabbi Riqi Kosovske with the burial at the Great Barrington Town Cemetery.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Northampton Survival Center, 265 Prospect St., Northampton, MA 01060.


Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Jan. 3, 2014