“A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.”
~ Elton Trueblood
The Shenandoah Community Foundation has lost one of its shining stars. Dr. Jacob “Jake” Haun, Jr., 85, died at his home near Woodstock, Virginia, on September 22, 2017.
Jake generously—and often anonymously—supported individuals and organizations in need as well as causes ranging from poverty and environment to social justice. His commitment to making a lasting difference in the world is clearly demonstrated in his work as a founding board member of the Shenandoah Community Foundation, on whose board he served with energy and dedication until the end of his life. He was among the Foundation’s staunchest allies.
Jake was born on March 15, 1932 in Richmond, VA, to Jacob Haun and Eleanor Hollingsworth Grabill Haun of Woodstock. His family had deep roots in this part of Virginia, so Jake was steeped in the stories of the way things were in the Shenandoah Valley at the turn of the century. Throughout his life, he worked to preserve the timeless values and traditions, all the while driven by his own intellectual curiosity and love of learning new things, both high and low tech.
Jake attended Massanutten Military Academy and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1953 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. During college, he was editor of the Virginia Engineering Review and got his pilot’s license. He earned his MBA from Harvard University in 1955 before serving for four years in the US Navy. Jake earned his M.D. degree from the Medical College of Virginia in 1972 and specialized in Internal Medicine. He worked as an Emergency Room physician in Richmond before successfully running a large medical services business in Madison, Wisconsin.
Little known by many—but very special to Jake—were his years of work at both the local and national level with the Unitarian Universalist Church (UUC), a denomination based on the belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.
Lucky was the day in 1989 when Jake returned to his native Shenandoah County. Here he met and married Diane L. Gardner in 1998. He immersed himself in area civic and nonprofit activities. You were just as likely to see him hammering nails to build a playground as attending a fundraising event. He served as a volunteer firefighter; as an active member of the Woodstock Rotary Club; as a poll worker and member of the Shenandoah County Electoral Board, and on many other boards and committees. He helped found the Shenandoah Community Foundation in 1999 and was instrumental in developing its strategic vision to become an organization that has awarded over a million dollars in grants and scholarships into the Shenandoah County area.
With his many and varied interests, Jake lived an impressively full, interesting, and wholehearted life. He had the unique ability to inspire others through the sheer force of his belief and his persistent drive. The greatest tribute Jake would have us pay him is to emulate those values of caring, generosity, and problem-solving.
All of us who have worked with Jake as part of this Shenandoah Community Foundation family want to express our deepest sympathy to his wife Diane and to his children, grandchildren, and extended family. We will miss him greatly.
~ Tribute by Elizabeth H. Cottrell
SCF Advisory Board Member and Former Board Member