Lance George Paul Haas was born December 9, 1947 in Madison, WI to Irene M. (Mears) Haas and Norbert G. Haas. Lance had one older brother, Norbert L. and an Uncle Gene Mears who lived at home with him.
Lance attended Our Lady Queen of Peace Grade School in Madison through 8th grade. His high school years were spent at Edgewood High, also in Madison. While at Edgewood Lance played football and participated in track. He was a member of the high school band. During those 4 years Lance grew to love the music program and received a tremendous amount of encouragement from his English teacher, Teresa Edwards. During his senior year he won a 4 year full scholarship to the UW Madison from the UW Music Clinic program.
From early on Lance was involved with the arts. When he was not yet 5, Lance performed on a Madison TV station with his uncle Charlie. From that point on, dance and music lessons and performances became a very real part of his life.
For numerous years Lance taught drum lessons first out of his home in Madison, and then later at Forbes Meagher Music. He continued teaching private lessons throughout college.
For a short period of time Lance was a percussionist in the Steve Miller Band and from there joined the 1960-70’s Madison-based rock group called King George and Us. They performed in local haunts every weekend and this source of income provided a much loved hobby and supported him through his four years in college. He continued to perform in rock groups throughout many of his professional career years. His most recent and most loved involvement was playing in his son Lance’s group, Who’sAsk’n?
While in college Lance held the position of President of the Music Fraternity Phi Mu Alpha. He graduated with honors from the UW Madison in June 1970 earning a Bachelors of Music Degree with a minor in English. He continued to take summer school courses at the Madison campus until he earned his Masters Degree in Music.
On July 25, 1970, he married his wife Carol M. (Cox) Haas at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Madison, Wisconsin. They celebrated 42 years of marriage in July of 2012. They have two children: Lance C. Haas (Jennifer) of Spring Grove, IL and Talissa A. (Haas) Machin (Scott) of Racine, WI.
In 1970 Lance was hired as Band Director and English teacher at Wilmot High School. Eventually Lance grew the band from a small group of 23 to several bands of over 200 in quantity. Once the responsibilities of the band grew, he was taken off the payroll as English teacher and was a full time band director. He worked with the local grade schools to grow the numbers in the program and coordinate efforts invested in the program.
Lance moved into directing plays and musicals during his tenure at Wilmot High School. He directed hits such as Les Miserables, Annie Get Your Gun, Nunsense, Grease, Sound of Music, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof and two original musicals he wrote – The Quality of Mercy and WilmoNt, the latter a synopsis of his life and other teachers at Wilmot during the 41 years he taught at the school. At the time of his death, he had recently completed his final musical work, “The Forgotten Man, A Story of Joseph of Nazareth”. This work was produced and performed in the Lance G. Haas Auditorium for the Performing Arts on Dec. 21, 22 and 23 of 2012. (This facility was formally dedicated to, and named after Lance on October 23, 2010.)
Lance took professional dance lessons until he was a freshman in high school and performed in numerous Madison theater productions. Those dance lessons were utilized throughout his teaching career for choreography in concerts, musicals and marching. He was even known to display his tap dancing talents to audiences at Wilmot.
Building enthusiasm for a music program in an athletic based school was a challenge. Lance took on this challenge. He created the largest rock group fathomable in 1971 and named it Sgt. Peppers after his much admired group, the Beatles. The Wilmot High School Sgt. Peppers group consisted of students who auditioned for the positions of 30-35 musicians, 10-15 vocalists and 5-6 dancers. Music was originally all arranged by Lance but in later years became an assignment in his Small Pop Class. Sgt. Peppers gave birth to another of Lance’s creations: Burger Bash. This was a concert performed by those involved in Sgt. Peppers but served with a 5 course meal. Waitresses on roller skates served snacks, soda, burgers, pizza and ice cream sundaes. This concert became a hugely popular annual event within the community.
In 1974 Lance began the Wilmot High School Guardsmen Marching Band. Travel with the high school band students became a goal with Lance while he taught at Wilmot. Knowing it was an expensive proposition to take 150-200 students on a trip anywhere, he once again got creative and devised ways to get the band to FL, Philadelphia, Wyoming, New York, California, and New Orleans on a shoe string budget. Fund raising – Florida fruit sales and pizza sales - and the Wilmot Band Parents Organization was started. Camping, either in campgrounds or in school and church floors became the method in which each student could afford to travel. During the early years, all meals were prepared and served by the band parent chaperones on the trips. In later years students invaded places such as Waffle House and Golden Corral in place of the huge 5’ square iron grill chaperones used to prep the meals.
In the 1970’s Lance began what would be his life-long hobby, scuba diving. He logged many miles traveling to, and diving at, such places as Truk Lagoon, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Aruba, Bonaire, Honduras, and the Central Pacific to name a few.
In addition to diving, another source of summer relaxation was camping. Lance took his family all over the United States, camping in tents and in later years, a 20 ft. travel trailer. He thoroughly enjoyed sitting by a campfire with his favorite pup, Raz.
Lance was an avid traveler reaching the far corners of the earth such as South Africa, Egypt, Galapagos, Israel, Australia, Peru, France, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, London, the South Pacific, Cozumel, Grand Caymen, St. Lucia, Bonaire, Aruba, Curacao, Bermuda and South America.
Lance was a drum corps and marching band judge throughout his adult life and traveled the U.S. to judge competitions. He was Executive Director for Central States Judges Association for 10 years and was chief scheduler for that organization also. During high school Lance performed with the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps. During his teaching career Lance worked as a percussion instructor on weekends with the Pioneer Drum Corps out of Milwaukee. He also judged solo and ensemble contests throughout the state of Wisconsin.
In addition to judging solo and ensemble contests, Lance wrote percussion music for the contests. He developed his publication company, Drumit Publications to distribute his published music.
Lance also taught English at Gateway and a band director’s class at UW Parkside.
In 2005 Lance was inducted into the Edgewood High School Fine Arts Hall of Fame.
In 1993 Lance was honored by Senator Herb Kohl and awarded the honor of State High School Teacher of the Year.
Lance served six terms as President of the Wilmot High School Teacher’s Association and was on the negotiating team for six years, two of which he held the position of Chief Negotiator. Additionally, he was on the Scholarship committee for 30 years as chairperson and Teacher of the Year committee for 20 years.
Following his father’s example, Lance worked at Wilmot High School his entire 41 year teaching career, surpassing his father’s employment longevity at UW Madison by 1 year. Lance never felt his employment was a job. He thoroughly enjoyed working with the thousands of students he taught and mentored over the years.
Lance was diagnosed with cancer in April 2010 and courageously fought the good fight until he was welcomed home by our Savior and Lord on October 12, 2012.