Haskell Moorman Monroe, age 86, of College Station, Texas, passed away Monday, November 13, 2017 after a prolonged battle with dementia. A lifelong Christian, Haskell was a beloved husband, father, son, friend, and teacher — all roles he relished and in which he excelled. He was a constant learner and consummate teacher, summed up in a favorite line from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, “gladly learn and gladly teach.”
Haskell was born at Baylor Hospital in Dallas on March 18, 1931, the only child of Haskell Monroe, Sr. and Myrtle Marie Jackson Monroe of Garland, TX. The family lived in Garland until Haskell was ten years of age. The young family moved to Ft. Smith, Arkansas where they lived for two years while Mr. Monroe was employed in construction for the U.S. War Department. They then settled in Orange, TX for many years. It was in schools in Garland and Orange that Haskell developed his thirst for learning.
He attended Orange High School where he was active in Band (clarinet), Boy Scouts, Track, and Football. He graduated in 1948 and subsequently enrolled at Austin College in Sherman, TX where he continued both sports. In 1952, he graduated with BA degrees in History and English. While completing his MA in History at Austin College, he began teaching History at Denison (TX) High School. From this time forward, his constant passion would be teaching.
Anybody who spent even the briefest time with Haskell would learn of his love of teaching through the telling of stories. He always had a story to tell whether around the dinner table, in the classroom, or with a stranger on the street. There was never a time he could not strike up a conversation with a longtime friend or a complete stranger, often regaling them with stories from life, history, or fiction.
Among his students, he was known as a teacher who made history come alive and sparked an interest in the subject — even the most hardened of students. He wasn’t just a lecturer at the front of the room, but developed an ability to connect with students on campus also. Often conversations with a student would start with a question about the student’s high school. Haskell would create a connection with some bit of information — often the high school mascot — to help build rapport with that student as an individual.
Haskell’s teaching was not limited to the classroom. If you spent time around Haskell, you would learn. Among the things he taught his family are:
•To value work
•Church attendance is a priority
•Asking questions is a good thing
•How to collect – often too much
•How to “enjoy” a roadside marker
•How to get off the beaten path – whether in the back roads of the USA or in Mexico – before GPS
•How to drive a car beyond its normally useful life
•To “walk it off” when hurt
In 1954, Haskell enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in Charleston, SC until 1956. While serving in the Navy, he continued to teach. He taught English to visiting Japanese sailors and football players as a volunteer Assistant Coach for the Cooper River High School (SC) Blue Devils.
It was soon after discharge from the Navy in 1956 that Haskell met his future wife, Joann Phillips, of Mebane, NC. They met while he was conducting historical research and she was working a summer job at Montreat, NC. Following his service in the Navy, Haskell returned to Rice University to continue work on his PhD in History under Dr. Frank Vandiver.
On June 15, 1957, Haskell and Jo were married in the First Presbyterian Church of Mebane, NC. The newlyweds lived in Houston while Haskell continued to pursue his PhD at Rice. His first college-level paid teaching position was at Schreiner College in Kerrville, TX in the summer of 1959. Following that, he took a temporary position as Instructor of History at Texas A&M College. That assignment turned into a 21-year tenure in which he served as Professor of History, Assistant Dean of the Graduate School, Dean of Faculties and Associate Vice-President for Academic Affairs. In 1961, he completed his dissertation, “The Organization of The Southern Presbyterian Church,” and was awarded his PhD by Rice Institute, now Rice University.
One of his early roles at A&M was serving as the secretary of the Texas A&M Aspirations Committee in the early 1960s, with a charge from College President Earl Rudder to make recommendations about A&M’s future, looking ahead to the university’s centennial in 1976. This committee’s recommendations included: admission of female students, non-compulsory membership in the Corps of Cadets, racial integration, higher admission standards, and provided input that led to adopting the name Texas A&M University - all recommendations that would forever change (and improve) Texas A&M.
In 1980, Haskell’s administrative duties grew, while continuing to teach, when he was chosen to become President of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He served in this role until 1987, when he was selected as Chancellor of the University of Missouri, Columbia (MU).
Under his leadership, both institutions reached record numbers in total enrollments, minority students, National Merit Award winners, and realized new levels of quality in student achievement. At UTEP, he led the effort that increased the number of Hispanic students from 34% to 52% of the total enrollment. At MU the minority total went up by one-third. During his tenure, MU advanced in ranking from fourth to first in student quality among Big Eight campuses. Research volume, measured by grant and contract totals, also reached new highs at both schools.
In his years at UTEP, financial contributions from alumni and friends increased almost threefold. Private gifts doubled at MU where he led the first comprehensive capital campaign in that university’s history, a fund-raising campaign that brought in more than $150 million (including what was then the largest cash gift in the University’s history).
During his two decades as a full-time administrator, Dr. Monroe continued to pursue his first love, teaching. While Dean at A&M, President at UTEP, and Chancellor at MU, he began every Tuesday and Thursday by teaching an American History survey course. In addition, his research in Southern History earned him a number of recognitions, including the Centennial Medallion from the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission and the Founder’s Award from the Museum of the Confederacy. In his last semester at MU, the Council of Greek Organizations selected him as the “Outstanding Teacher on Campus.” This bookended his receiving the 1964 “Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award” from the Texas A&M Association of Former Students.
Professionally, in addition to continually teaching, his historical projects included: editing the first volume of The Papers of Jefferson Davis, editing a diary which he titled Yankees A'Coming: One Month's Experience During the Invasion of Liberty County, Georgia, 1864-1865, as well as numerous articles and reviews for professional journals. In the later years of his academic career, he worked diligently to develop a comprehensive bibliography of first-person accounts of life on the Southern home front during the Civil War.
Throughout his life, Haskell enjoyed several hobbies. These included:
•Bricks – It was while serving the in Navy that he began his hobby of collecting bricks. This began as he was conducting research and visiting historic sites related to his Doctoral work in Southern History. When he would visit the site of a former plantation or other historical site, he would often find that the only remnants of the structures would be a chimney or foundation. The hobby expanded into a collection of named bricks, ultimately growing to more than 1000 unique specimens.
•Pottery – In 1978, Haskell and Jo bought Dr. Lloyd Taylor’s collection of Native American pottery. This core collection of 80 pots was expanded over the years to ultimately include more than 200 pots representing the best of modern Southwestern U.S. and Mexican Pueblo pottery.
•Art – Haskell and Jo became friends with several notable artists. Among these were E. M. “Buck” Schiwetz, Jose Cisneros, Tom Lea, and Mort Walker. Through these friendships, they collected several pieces of art from each artist which they proudly displayed in their home. It was also through these friendships that he was able to secure original pieces created especially for the UTEP library, which was built during his tenure at UT-El Paso. Tom Lea’s “Who Came to Stay” symbolizes those western sojourners who not only came through El Paso del Norte, but came to El Paso to settle. Jose Cisneros created a series of 100 drawings titled “Riders Across the Centuries: Horsemen of the Spanish Borderlands” that covers the wide variety of people, backgrounds, and occupations that created historic El Paso.
•Wood Working – Haskell’s father was a cabinet maker by trade and from this he developed a love of working with wood and building furniture. While he never had the complete wood shop he dreamed of, he often took the opportunity to craft occasional pieces for his and friends’ homes.
•Post Cards – Haskell collected picture post cards from every town in which he had lived. That collection consists of thousands of post cards acquired through many hours spent haunting antique shops and post card shows.
Haskell was a lifelong Presbyterian and was ordained as both a Deacon and Elder in the Presbyterian Church. In his church life, he not only continued to learn to better follow Christ, but also taught. He was an active member of the First Presbyterian Churches of Garland, Orange, Bryan, El Paso, and Columbia, MO, as well as St. Philip Presbyterian Church while a student at Rice University. As an adult, he regularly taught adult Sunday School classes.
Haskell’s civic involvements included Rotary International and service on the boards of United Way, Boy Scouts, and The Salvation Army. He was elected to the board of Southwestern Bell Corporation in 1986 and remained on that board for seventeen years, as the corporation evolved from Southwestern Bell to SBC to AT&T.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Margaret Joann (Jo) Phillips originally from Mebane, NC. Additional survivors include their children:
•Stephen Charles and his wife Phyllis Etheredge Monroe of San Antonio, TX and their children Hannah Marie and Sarah Grace
•Melanie Anne and her husband Joseph (Jody) Mullings of El Paso, TX and their children Katherine Anne and David Joseph
•Mark Haskell and his wife Holly Orr Monroe of Columbia, MO and their children Charles (Charlie) Mark and George Ross
•John Andrew and his wife Julia Smith Monroe of Dallas, TX and their children Caroline Lynn and Clark Noah
•He is also survived by countless extended Monroe, Jackson, Corley, and Williams family members from his family roots in Garland, TX
Haskell was preceded in death by his parents.
The family will receive visitors at Hillier Funeral Home, 2301 E 29th St, Bryan, TX, on Friday, 17 November between 5:00 and 7:00.
A burial service will be held at the Aggie Field of Honor at 11:00 on Saturday, November 18, followed by a memorial service at First Presbyterian Church, 1100 Carter Creek Parkway, Bryan, TX at 2:00 on Saturday.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to one of the following:
College Station / Bryan, Texas
The First Presbyterian Church of Bryan Foundation
1100 Carter Creek Parkway
Bryan, TX. 77802
Texas A&M Foundation, Haskell M. Monroe Memorial Fund
401 George Bush Drive
College Station, TX 77840
Hospice Brazos Valley
502 W. 26th. Street
Bryan, TX 77833
El Paso, Texas
The University of Texas at El Paso
Office of Asset Management and Development
500 W. University Avenue
El Paso TX 79968-0524
Haskell and Jo Monroe Libraries Endowment at MU
The University of Missouri, Columbia
MU Libraries Development Office
104 Ellis Library
Columbia, MO 65201-5149
Via phone at: Sheila Voss - 573-882-9168