Otto Haas moved to Philadelphia in 1909 from Germany to expand his company, Rohm and Haas, which became wildly successful. In 1945 he used some of his wealth to start a foundation to address post-war social needs, and his children and grandchildren have continued his philanthropic legacy. His grandson thinks Otto would have felt very at home at Town Hall: “Otto cared so deeply about his local community, and he made sure no one was ever left behind. He would appreciate Town Hall’s commitment to making a place where everyone is welcome and can afford to take part.”
Otto’s commitment to his community was evidenced throughout his life, work, and approach to running his business. He believed it was his responsibility to ensure that his employees could live a good life. During the Depression, he worked hard to make sure no one ever lost their job. As Duncan noted “They might have to make do with a different role for a little while, but he did whatever it took to make sure their livelihoods were secure.”
Outside of public life, Otto was known for his mischievous sense of humor, love of the outdoors, and gathering with his family. Town Hall is grateful for the opportunity to honor his memory in our own gathering space, the Otto bar in the Wyncote Foundation NW Forum.
Portrait of Otto Haas by Kathryn Rathke.