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San Miguel philanthropist receives honorary doctorate

By James Grant

Jerry Weakley, Dr. Howard Haynes, President Pat Long

San Miguel resident, Howard Haynes, recently received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from his alma mater, Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. The award was presented to Howard at his home in San Miguel by Dr. Pat Long, President, and Mr. Jerry Weakley, Vice President, of the university. The ceremony, kept a secret from Howard by his partner, Bill Harris, was attended by over 100 of his friends and supporters.

Howard was recognized by the Board of Trustees of Baker for the many years of service and support he provided not only to the university but also to the greater Kansas City community prior to moving to San Miguel. The Honorary Doctorate was a special tribute to Howard for his contributions and achievements in the humanities and for his philanthropic work.

During Dr. Long’s visit to San Miguel, she highlighted much of Howard’s background and career. Upon graduation from Baker University in 1957, he served as Baker’s Director of Admissions. Later he served as Director of Admissions, Housing and Financial Aid at the University of Akron, Ohio. Finally, Howard was the second Headmaster of the Grafton School in Berryville, Virginia, a cutting edge co-ed boarding school dealing specifically with learning disabilities in young children. It was at that point that he also co-founded, with Alexander MacKay-Smith, North American Riding for the Handicapped, serving as its president for the first three years.

Through the years, Howard supported the General Fund of Baker, Mulvane Science renovation, The Baker Library renovation and made numerous gifts from his art collection (Thomas Hart Benton Lithographs) to the university and the art department, and he financially supported several additional projects of importance at Baker University. In 1988, he organized and hosted a large alumni event honoring former Baker Professor of Music, Dr. Bill Rice, in his Kansas City home, Questover.

In the 1970’s Howard owned three homes in Kansas City that he converted into co-ed boarding and education residences for at-risk youth. While working with the Kansas City mayor and the mayor’s leadership team over a ten-year period, he became a foster parent to over 400 court-appointed first-offender youths. While involved with this program, he provided for the care, feeding, health and education of those in his charge. He employed four Baker alumni to assist in the daily operations of this program. In 1995, the program was adopted by the Juvenile Court System of Jackson County, Kansas City, Missouri, where it continues today.

His community activism, involvement and vision were directly responsible for the revitalization of one of Kansas City’s oldest neighborhoods, Hyde Park, which was designated as the first Historic District in Kansas City by the National Trust.

Howard served on numerous Boards of Directors in his home town including the Kansas City Philharmonic, the Lyric Opera, The Mission Valley Hunt Club and the Conservatory of Music. He was on the Founding Board of the Historic Foundation of Kansas City. He was a 20-year member of Planned Parenthood and served as the co-chair with Sandy Berkley, wife of the then mayor of Kansas City, Richard Berkley, on the first AIDS Benefit held in Kansas City.

While residing part-time in Santa Fe, NM, he served as president of the Board of the Wheelwright Museum for three years, was president of the Old Santa Fe Association and was a board member and vice president of the Orchestra of Santa Fe.

Today, as a long-time resident of San Miguel de Allende, he has continued his activism and community involvement. Howard and his partner, Bill Harris, have combined their energies and resources to organize and support numerous projects, such as the restoration and upkeep of a civic park in Guadiana and the planning, supervision and financial support of the restoration of 23 of the city’s historic public fountains.

Howard has continued to devote his time and efforts in support of a variety of non-profit organizations in San Miguel. He served for ten years on the Board of the Community Foundation of San Miguel and was responsible for much of its success in raising funds locally for projects of importance. In 2010, Howard was selected by Hospice San Miguel to receive its first ever “Community Caregiver” Award. He was honored not only for the community service, spirit and devotion he has shown to San Miguel but for his volunteerism, Board membership and financial support of the services now provided by Hospice San Miguel, the very first ongoing hospice care program in all of Mexico.

An avid horseman who still rides 2 to 3 hours every day, he remains focused upon helping those most in need and encouraging others to participate in community organizations that are so vital to the residents of San Miguel. During the recent presentation of his Honorary Doctorate, Howard described the philosophy he has embraced his entire life, which he remembers is summarized by words attributed to John Wesley: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” This is a great philosophy for a life well lived. Congratulations, Dr. Haynes!


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