We are diminished. John C. Haas, 1919 - 2011
Another friend and supporter of Ploughshares Fund passed away this week. Philanthropist and business leader John C. Haas died on Saturday, aged 92.
John’s vision and passion for a world without nuclear weapons was a light that inspired both business colleagues and policy makers to challenge conventional wisdom and push towards a more peaceful world. His unflagging support also enabled and inspired many organizations to continue working on nuclear issues, including ours.
His obituary appeared Saturday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Below is a touching tribute that was circulated by the organization he founded, the Project on Nuclear Awareness.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends. He will be missed.
John Haas, who died on Saturday, April 2nd, was a mostly-unsung hero of the movement for a peaceful end to the era of nuclear weapons in the world. He worked quietly, diligently, and generously behind the scenes, first, as a businessman and Chairman of Rohm and Haas; then as a co-founder and leader of Business Executives for Nuclear Arms Control (BENAC), and also PRONAC (Professionals for Nuclear Arms Control), in the 1980's and 1990's, and later, as co-founder of PNA-- the Project for Nuclear Awareness. This is a group that seeks to end all nuclear threats to the US and the world, by creating a world free of all nuclear arsenals.
John worked on issues of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons. He was quietly instrumental in keeping the chemical industry from opposing the Chemical Weapons Convention--this support assisted in assuring that President George H. W. Bush would sign the treaty, and helped in its passage by the Senate under President Bill Clinton.
When Mikhail Gorbachev brought a new spirit of "glasnost" or openness to the Soviet Union, John Haas was among those who understood its importance, and encouraged our government to respond positively-- thankfully, leaders such as Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn in the Senate, and Ronald Reagan and George Schultz in the White House and State Department, agreed, leading to assisting the transition from communism, the liberation of a hundred million people in Central and Eastern Europe, and the removal of thousands of nuclear missiles from the earth.
With Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, John helped lead a movement for new ideas on post-Cold War thinking on defense budgets-- which he saw were way too high. Only now are US government leaders in the White House, State, Defense, and the Senate coming to understand that nothing can be off the table when it comes to peace, security, and common-sense budgeting. Our war-making budget is too high, and our peace-making budget is too low-- John saw that, early on.
John was a supporter of the START Treaty with Gorbachev, Bush (Sr.), and Clinton, and also of the New START with President Obama. He lived to see the triumph of this new treaty to reduce thousands more weapons, after a hard-fought campaign in the US Senate in December 2010, with New START's Christmas Eve passage by a large, bipartisan majority. John Haas himself was always bipartisan-- he knew that's how change can come more surely.
People in many groups and movements will have much to say about John C. Haas. We at PNA, the Project for Nuclear Awareness, are especially grateful that he endowed our organization with generous funding, which has helped to spread the messages of peace and nuclear security in the world.
John Haas was and will always be an inspiration at PNA-- so much so that in 2008, we named our annual Award for International Peace and Social Justice for John and his dear wife, Chara C. Haas. Last year, we honored the World Court Project and its leaders, for bringing the issue to the International Court of Justice. PNA has developed a "university nuclear education series" for college students to learn about these critical issues, another program that John Haas helped to make possible. We are seeking a series of "Haas Lectures" at Temple University, an institution John also helped greatly.
He will be sorely missed by all who were graced by his presence, his dedication, and his generosity.
The Staff and Board of Directors,
Project for Nuclear Awareness