Dennis Charles Hass
Dennis Charles Hass, 73, of Yorktown, Virginia, passed away peacefully on Sunday, April 22, 2018, while his wife of 51 years, Barbara Rulffs Hass, read to him from a favorite book. He was a father, mathematician, and teacher, described by those who knew him as “kind, intelligent, and gentle, with a warm smile.”
Born June 6, 1944, in Massachusetts to Charles and Asenath (Longfellow) Hass, Dennis was raised by his devoted grandparents, Lutie and Dennis Longfellow of Orono, Maine. Lutie, its town clerk for many years, was well known, and Dennis spoke gratefully in remembrance of the many townspeople who showed his family many kindnesses while he was growing up. An avid Boy Scout, Dennis was awarded the Order of the Arrow and was honored to be selected to attend the 1960 National Jamboree in Colorado Springs.
Dennis was a graduate of Orono High School and a member of the National Honor Society. He received many honors, including the Harvard Book Award for high scholarship and character. He won a full scholarship to the University of Maine, where he met his future wife, Barbara, and graduated with Honors. There he was named a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and received memberships in many honor societies including Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Mu Epsilon, the honorary mathematics society.Dennis and Barbara were married and moved to Michigan State University where he received his Ph.D. in mathematics with a specialization in Topology. Both Dennis and Barbara taught at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, VA. Later Dennis had a varied career in the nuclear industry, a financial services industry, and as a Technical Advisor to the Air Force through the MITRE Corporation in Massachusetts.
Dennis remained active in math and teaching throughout his retirement. For many years he was a question editor for the national MATHCOUNTS competition series for middle school teams. He received great joy (and occasional headaches) clarifying and validating competition questions “the long way” to ensure their fairness, clarity, and accuracy. He tutored adults and students, who described him as a patient and gifted teacher, with an ability to understand how difficult math could be for others and a desire to help them discover the beauty in the subject itself.
Dennis is survived by his wife of 51 years, Barbara, their sons, Christopher (Arlington, MA) and Kevin (Yorktown, VA) and their respective wives, Katherine, and Elizabeth. Dennis was devoted to his daughters-in-law and was an enthusiastic grandfather to two loving granddaughters.
Throughout a lengthy decline due to spinocerebellar ataxia, Dennis’s health and comfort were aided by his loving family, a devoted care team from “The Gardens” at Warwick Forest, the Riverside Hospital staff, his doctors, and a kind community of friends near and far, including the congregation of By Grace Community Church in Yorktown, where his son, Kevin, is the Pastor. Dennis loved many things: his family, higher mathematics, science fiction and fantasy novels, playing bridge, and watching the night sky with a backyard telescope. His was a life well lived, and he will be deeply missed.
A memorial service will be held at By Grace Community Church, 2831 Denbigh Blvd., Yorktown, VA 23692, on Sunday, May 20th at 3 P.M. Burial will take place at a later date at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Westford, Massachusetts.