It is with great regret that I must let you all know that Marian Haas died at 1030 our time, 0530 East coast US time, on April 2nd 1999.
Marian Haas was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, in an advanced stage, in September 1996. She made her planned visit for Oxonmoot, returned to the USA after a much briefer visit than usual, and underwent surgery on the day after her return. This is a picture of her at the Saturday evening party at Oxonmoot 1996.
One of her major concerns then was that her friends should not be too worried upset about what was happening to her. Even at this time, her first concern was for others.
After this, she had almost continuous chemotherapy until, in November 1998, she needed further surgery. There was a serious risk that she would not survive this operation, but her strong constitution and iron will helped her to make a partial recovery.
It was in 1980 that I first met Marian. She had been corresponding with Lester Simons, then the membership secretary, and wanted to visit England. She was hoping to stay with a member of the Tolkien Society living in London, and, although we were living right on the fringes, we were the nearest who had a spare room.
We got on very well, and Marian visited us in subsequent years, in one case using up her savings in staying in England for most of a year (and bought a Morris Marina with the worst case of rust I have ever seen..), a lot of the time with us, but spending time with other friends in the Tolkien Society or historical re-enactment societies.
She was always good at drawing, and followed this interest by training as a commercial artist, unfortunately graduating just as a recession hit. She designed the logo for the 1992 conference, the badges for 1998 Oxonmoot (designed in memory of Lester), and other miscellaneous pieces of artwork including occasional illustrations for Amon Hen over the years.
She also drew a number of intricate and complex items of Celtic Knotwork, a particular interest of hers. Some of these were designed for, and presented to, her many friends. For us, she painted a wonderful picture of our cat, Goldie.
Perhaps as a result of associating with technical people like myself for so long, Marian became interested in amateur radio, earning the callsign KB1TTZ at the technician level. She subsequently wrote the web page for the Somerset County Amateur Radio Society.
Although Marian was, by inclination and training, an artist, her ability to learn technical subjects was very good. On one visit I showed her my CAD system for designing printed circuit boards. She did the layouts for, and built, a couple of gadgets that she wanted. On returning to New Jersey she was able to find employment in the drawing office of a microwave electronics company, designing printed circuits.
Over almost twenty years, Marian has lived in our house for a period totaling maybe three or four years, as well as staying with other friends for part of her visits. She enjoyed staying with her many friends in Britain, and alternated between working in her home area, Raritan, New Jersey, to earn enough money for a visit, then living on her savings in Britain.
On two occasions Marian came to Britain in order to travel with us to the French Alps to ski. On the way back from the second ski holiday, she was almost refused re-admission to Britain by the immigration authorities, on the grounds that she had arrived in Britain three times in recent years, without leaving once. Would that it were so - then there would still be two Marians left alive!
Always, if she had not visited for a longer time, there was the sense of a Marian shaped hole waiting to be filled. Now it never will be filled again, and I think that I shall always miss her.
Tolkien Society webmaster at the time of writing this (6th April 1999).
Marian became a member of the Sisters of Mercy in 1992, although for a long time we were unable to come up with a nickname for her that was both appropriate and acceptable to her. Marian was present at several events at the Temple, at which she not only gave us the pleasure of her company, but was invaluable in the tidying and washing up departments - qualities which are notably lacking in most Sisters !
I shall remember Marian most for her unfailing good humour, even in the face of sometimes severe provocation , for her willingness to help others and to make herself useful, for her optimism and perseverance, and lastly, but not least, for the courage which she showed during her illness, often hiding her fears and playing down bad news to avoid worrying others. She always put other people before herself.
The world won't be quite the same without her.
I first met Marian at the Northfarthing Innmoot in March 1982. It was my first TS event and for Marian it was the last thing she was going to attend on that visit as she was going to be flying home next day. I didn't see her again for some considerable number of months after that, but when we did meet up again she recognised me from that meeting in the upstairs room of the Valiant Trooper. We became friends and I met her every time she came over to visit the UK. We attended both TS events and those organised by the Viking and Medieval re-enactment societies where she had many friends. To get around to some of these events when she was over for a whole year, she bought the rustiest car I have ever helped mend - once having to swipe a length of rubber hose off a (hopefully) abandoned car in High Wycombe. Those times of going a-viking are long over now but I will always remember those summer days camped in fields all over the countryside with a crowd of like minded eccentrics.
We can't remember when we first met Marian; possibly at our first Oxonmoot. She was always a friendly face, who we got to know gradually over the years. We knew her principally as an artist - she took the vague waffling ideas of the 1992 Centenary Conference and turned them into a dragon of great personality (Andy was involved in scanning and digitally doctoring it).
Some years later, when the Italian Tolkien Society was forming itself, they wanted to use the image as part of their logo, and asked us to make an introduction to Marian. This is significant for two reasons: firstly because the Italian TS is, quite simply, the most stylish TS in the world, it shows the standard of her work, and secondly it is a superb example of a Marian-and-Andy collaborative project.
Pat and Trevor Reynolds
I guess I must have first met Marian in 1980 or 1981, when she started spending time in the UK - certainly by the later date, as I was by then living in the south-east of England and attending most of the monthly London Innmoots and other Tolkien Society events. She became a fast friend, and took an immediate interest in the Dark Ages re-enactment milieu which I started getting involved with from summer 1982.
For much of the 80's Marian was a familiar figure on the battlefield camps of England, whenever she was staying over here. Although most of the groups didn't encourage female combatants at the time, her height, golden hair and period robes made her a striking sight around the tented villages that sprang up at weekends, in places like Tewkesbury, Mortimer's Cross and Bosworth.
Her skills in Celtic interlace design were much in demand. There are several treasured illuminated-initial wedding presents still around, representing hours of loving work. Her home-made Christmas cards always took pride of place.
Maybe she was just born out of her time and place. But her helpfulness, enthusiasm and many gifts made her a joy to know, at any time and place.
Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord; may perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.
A few years ago, at a Northfarthing Innmoot at the Bricklayers Arms, Marian and I had a long conversation. The fact that we were in the Ladies at the time added a certain je ne sais quoi to the occasion!
We had been drinking for a couple of hours, so we were just a little liberated. The upshot of our têtê a têtê eventually was "go not to Angie for advice for she will say both yes and no!"
It was one of those particularly personal, ladies only chats, that people who are on the edge of friendship occasionally share. Whether she acted on any of that non-advice I never did know.
It stuck with me, that rather odd evening. I had no previous idea that Marian was so completely the Anglophile, and why. I also found her to be very self-deprecating, and I recall at least a couple of occasions when I vehemently told her to buck up.
She referred to that night at a Mundeli pic-nic two years later. In a rather
wistful way she commented
Maybe you were right not to give advice as such.
Perhaps I would have taken it. I did not ask further, but I know what she
So my memories of Marian are of an imaginative, somewhat thoughtful lady with a huge sense of fun and an enormous capacity to love - be it art, literature, England, or individual people.
Her passing was a tragedy, as she was so young and had much more to give to the world. Yet, the world is a better place for her having been in it, so let us celebrate her life, and accept her death.
Angie Gardner 12th April 1999
Like many other members of the Tolkien Society, Marian seems to have been a part of my life for ever. We must have first met sometime in the early 80's, but I'm not sure when. She is present in my memories of so many events connected in some way with the Tolkien Society.
One meeting I would like to describe in a bit more detail actually was not TS connected, but was brought about by the joint passion Rikki Breem and I share for ancient Egypt. We went on a tour of the Egyptology collections in North-East America in April 1997, and arranged to meet Marian on our day off in New York. This was about 6 months after Marian's cancer was discovered, and after she had endured a huge operation and vast amounts of chemotherapy. I was very scared that we would be meeting a sad wraith. Not a bit of it! Marian bounced into the hotel with all her old enthusiasm, and promptly reduced the ladies restroom to complete hysteria with an impromptu fashion show and a straw poll to decide which of her blond curly wig or fetching blue turban should be worn that day, as replacement for her vanished golden locks. The attached photo shows the result, and was taken after we had had a spot of lunch and hiked to the Empire State Building, which none of us had previously visited.
Further hiking around the streets of New York followed, as we tried to track down an interesting building we had seen from above, but which vanished completely at ground level, as well as find me a new book-shaped bag. One of the more exhausting days of an exhausting trip continued with an excellent dinner with much wine and chat, followed by more drinks and chat back at our hotel. It was past midnight before we could pack Marian back off to New Jersey. No way was she letting her illness prevent her from doing what she wanted!
My memory of Marian in New York defines to me the essential Marian: enthusiastic, helpful and such great fun to be with.
Annie Haward 15th April 1999
I first encountered Marian at an Oxonmoot in the early 1980's when she proved memorable by boning cigarettes every time we met. I was always glad to see her when she came over, but was very badly shaken by her appearance at the '96 Oxonmoot. She told me that she had learned of my recent run-in with cancer and, although it was in a different place she wanted to hear of my experiences and attitude. We had a long discussion which she seemed to find helpful.
We next met in the spring of '97 in New York when Annie Haward and I were visiting museums. Marian came over from New Jersey and looking very much better. We all spent a happy day exploring the city, including King Kong's last stand, and sharing gossip, good food and drink in true Tolkien Society fashion.
We last met at the '98 Oxonmoot and everyone was glad that she was there, though it proved to be her last visit. She then went back to hospital and mutual friends relayed information. We spoke on the 'phone but the last time I rang she was under sedation. I was very sad to learn of her death but glad for her sake that it was over.
Marian did a lot of good things for the Tolkien Society and she was always good company. I was pleased that some of her greatest friends contrived to visit her, but she will be much missed by all of us.
Rikki Breem 30th April 1999
|Tolkien Society Home Page.||Check validation|
This page © copyright The Tolkien Society,
1999. Last updated April 18th 1999.
The Tolkien Society is Registered in England as a Charity.
Registered Charity Number 273809.