Francis J. Haas, 76, of West Sadsbury Township, a builder, civic leader, and fire company official, died Friday, March 20, of cancer in the family home he built.
Mr. Haas was perhaps best known as chairman of the Chester County Township Board of Supervisors and chairman of the Keystone Valley Fire District, a fire company network he helped create.
Mr. Haas, born in Philadelphia, was the only child of Frank L. and Margaret Halligan Haas. He was reared in Southwest Philadelphia and graduated from West Catholic Preparatory High School in 1957. He took accounting classes at night at St. Joseph's University.
Mr. Haas' early work as an accountant took him to General Electric Re-Entry Systems in Philadelphia and Hale Fire Pump in West Conshohocken. But as he had been trained by his builder father, Mr. Haas decided to set himself up in business as Frank Haas Builder in Philadelphia and then in Atglen, Chester County. He retired in 1997 after 30 years.
Mr. Haas then worked in the hardware department of Home Depot in Frazer for 15 years.
Although Mr. Haas came to public service in 2009, relatively late in life, he accomplished a lot: The Township Building was modernized, a new police station was built, municipal equipment was upgraded, community activities were expanded, and a plan for the future was drafted.
Among his finest achievements as chairman was the wooing of Victory Brewing to the township and the construction of its state-of-the-art brewery there.
Mr. Haas was proudest of establishing the Keystone Valley Fire District and Keystone Valley Fire Department.
"He was involved in the creation of the multi-municipality regional fire district from early on," his family said, "believing that a consolidated effort by the municipalities and volunteer fire companies was the only way to address the challenges confronting volunteer firefighters across Pennsylvania."
He was elected the first chairman of the Keystone Valley Fire District in 2012. In 2013, he was among those who went to Harrisburg to accept the Governor's Award for Local Government Excellence on behalf of Keystone Valley.
Mr. Haas served as chairman of the Board of Supervisors and as fire district chairman until just before his death, never missing a meeting despite declining health.
A talented mechanic, Mr. Haas loved to work on engines, especially those in Ford cars. He took flying lessons, was a member of the Atglen Sportsmen's Club, and enjoyed fishing. Mr. Haas also was an active alumnus of West Catholic Prep.
He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Trudy Lacy Haas; and sons Francis J. Jr. and Edward L.
A viewing from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 28, will be followed by an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Church, 1 Fatima Dr., Secane. Interment will be in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery.
Donations may be made to West Catholic Preparatory High School, 4501 Chestnut St., Philadelphia 19139.