We apologize for the misspelling in Bob Haas’ last name in his obituary, which appeared in May 10 issue of Atención, on page 36. The photo credit in the same obituary is for Camie Sands.
By Ali Zerriffi
Robert Haas passed away last April 29th at home, in San Miguel De Allende.
It is a challenge to pay a tribute to a man that has contributed so much to his adoptive community during decades of growth that surprised even relatively newcomers and he was one of those rare personae you hear about before you actually meet them; their aura preceding them like a good omen. His was a message of hope embodied in his relentless efforts to advocate environmental protection and ecological responsibility. While San Miguel was turning into a larger, more sophisticated, and more populated town, Bob Hass, a nature lover par excellence, led the Audubon Society of Mexico for years in its mission “to conserve, restore, and protect habitats and natural resources for the benefit of birds, wildlife, humanity and the earth’s future, and to provide opportunities to enjoy and learn about our natural heritage.” His name became synonymous with various projects in San Miguel and as far as Chiapas where Audubon helps fund two biologists to survey the bird population in el Triunfo Forest, an endeavor that ultimately helped establish the area’s designation as a national refuge.
Closer to home there was a collaborative effort between NGOs and governmental agencies to protect the Santa Rosa Mountains from extensive logging and establish a protected zone of 100 hectares in the area. We all know the role Bob had in coordinating efforts and inspiring donors to restore and improve Parque Juarez as the open public space where a playground, basket ball courts and walking alleys provide recreation for all ages. Another park was created, Los Pajaritos, behind the local detention center, a part of town that lacked green spaces. His efforts went from promoting reforestation by providing seedlings for people in the countryside to supporting school programs that taught children about birds and the environment.
His activism was deeply spiritual and his soft-spoken manners and peaceful charm made him the ideal advocate for the world of nature. His ability to communicate his vision across language and cultural obstacles made him a successful leader in everything he organized. His contributions to our wonderful botanical garden have reinforced our Charco del Ingenio as the “must visit” public space in the region and as one of the most important collection of cacti in the country.
Naomi and I got to know Bob much better in the last few years because of their involvement with the garden and we came to love the man and admire his serene approach to life. We know that we have been privileged and we also know that we will always feel him around us, especially in places he loved and nurtured, places that nourished his soul.
The botanical garden was one of them and over the years he managed to weave bonds between the various organizations that shared complementary missions and El Charco became the magnet for those who want to commune with nature, admire the cacti collection, observe the local fauna, participate in environmental education, do field work and celebrate nature.
The news of Bob Haas’ passing has inspired a number of people to contact El Charco about making donations in his name. Jennifer and everyone at El Charco are very touched by these gestures and a memorial fund established in his name would forever keep Bob among us and serve as a model of unselfish dedication to a cause that is greater than all of us. I would like to invite you to join us and make your contributions to this fund by writing a check to El Charco del Ingenio A.C. and putting Bob Haas Memorial Fund on the memo line and taking it to the Reception desk or to Posada Corazon (Aldama 9, Centro). If you are out of town but would like to contribute, please mail your check to El Charco, c/o Posada Corazon, Aldama 9, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico 37700. You may also do a bank transfer. For details or if you have any questions, please contact Naomi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Bob and Jennifer’s behalf, we thank you very much!