Harry G. Haskell Jr.

Harry G. (Hal) Haskell Jr., 98, former Mayor of Wilmington, died on Jan. 16. Enjoying one last holiday visit from his big, loud, loving family helped him finally let go. Hal and his wife Mimi had eight children, 19 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. They were married for 61 years. She, like Hal, was generous in her private and public life. Together they were energetic, mischievous, and shared a great sense of humor. After Mimi died in 2008, he reconnected with an amazing childhood friend, Ruth du Pont Lord. They were devoted partners until Ruth died in 2014.

Harry Haskell Jr.

Hal attended Tower Hill School, St. Mark's School in Mass., and Princeton, which he left in 1942 to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard where he spent time in the Atlantic doing off-shore anti-submarine patrol and then in the Pacific on an LST until the end of the war.

Hal began his business career as president of Greenhill Dairies in 1948 and later was president and chairman of the board at Abercrombie and Fitch, a company that reflected his sportsmanship and love of the outdoors. Surpassing even his interest in business were his commitments to public service and philanthropy. Hal's political career began with the support of his friend and colleague, Nelson Rockefeller, and involved work in the Department of Housing, Education, and Welfare under President Eisenhower. During his one term as Delaware's only member of the US House of Representatives ('57-'59), Hal was proudest of building bipartisan backing for student loan and air traffic control legislation.

When Hal was Mayor of Wilmington he was most admired for his efforts to ease racial tension in the city following the riots that had been sparked by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hal, along with Gov Russ Peterson, ended the National Guard's occupation, which had been one of the longest in American history. He valued honesty in politicians and a willingness to compromise, and he often praised the people of Delaware for electing reasonable leaders from both parties.

Just as important to Hal was his advocacy for environmental stewardship and increased access to quality education. He was a founding member of Chadds Ford's Brandywine River Museum and Conservancy and served on the board for more than 50 years. In 1969, Hal and two friends started Dynamy, a program in Worcester, Mass. designed to empower young people to discover their purpose. He took aspects of this program and, with the help of local leaders, founded Delaware Futures to mentor and support at-risk students for college. In the last two years of his life, the cause he pursued most passionately was bold investment — both public and private, — in early childhood education.

His service will be held at Christ Church in Greenville, Del. on Monday, Jan. 27 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Delaware Futures. 1104 N Adams Street, Wilmington, DE 19801

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