The Rev. Dennis Wayne Haas, professor emeritus of religious studies and former chaplain at Grinnell College, died peacefully in Grinnell, surrounded by family, on Jan. 18, 2016, at the age of 81.
One of the College’s most beloved teachers, his areas of interest and expertise included the Hebrew Bible and Christian Scriptures. Faculty and students knew him as a generous, thoughtful, compassionate man who was devoted to issues of social justice, diversity, and peace.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, Dennis received a master’s of divinity from Union Theological Seminary, N.Y., and a master’s of sacred theology from Lancaster Theological Seminary, Pa. In 1959 he began his career serving as pastor at Faulkner Swamp German Reformed Church (UCC), Gilbertsville, Pa. He joined the Grinnell College faculty in 1966 and served in the dual role of professor and chaplain until his retirement in 1996. He became professor emeritus in 2003. Dennis was an active and dedicated member of Grinnell UCC Church, most recently teaching the adult Sunday School Seekers class. Among his many accomplishments, Dennis served as president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains, board member of Mid-Iowa Community Action, and on the Grinnell Affordable Housing Commission.
The son of Wayne B. and Mamie C. Haas, Dennis was born Dec. 23, 1934, in Topton, Pa. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Thomsa “Tommy” Stewart Haas; his children Jonathan Haas (Deborah), David Jordan-Haas (Constance), Andrew Haas (Sarah), and Elizabeth Haas; siblings Christine Luckenbill, Richard Haas, Timothy Haas, Bonnie Haas; and five grandchildren. Dennis is preceded in death by parents Wayne and Mamie Haas of Kutztown, Pa., and siblings Larry Haas, David Haas, and Alan Haas.