Maude Elizabeth Dabbs (8/20/1920 – 1/13/2001) and Robert Haas
If there was ever an off-spring who had the
in her, it was undoubtedly Maude. She
hitchhiked across the state by herself.
Her aunts were mortified. She
published a wedding announcement that thumbed her nose at society and made jest
of the proper rituals of southern etiquette.
They all shook their heads in disbelief.
Born and raised most of her early life in Hartsville while her father
was at Warren , she was only 13 yrs. old when
her mother died. She was independent and
a free spirit at an early age and her father was either too self-absorbed to
notice at the time, or encouraged her exuberance. Regardless, he did not discourage her streak
of independence. When her father
married Edith and moved back to Rip Raps she was a young woman on her way to Coker College . She stayed there for only a year before
transferring to Coker College Black Mountain College
in . There she met Robert Haas (4/16/1898 –
12/05/1997) North Carolina
Robert was forty years old, 22 years her senior, and had already developed a reputation in
, as a fine calligrapher,
printer, and photographer. He was a
collector of ancient glass, coins and incunabula (books, sheets of paper or
images printed prior to 1501 in Vienna, Austria Europe). One of his most famous finds was wandering
past a laundry in
and seeing a small sign that said “manuscripts for sale.” There he recognized 8 pages by Erhart Ratoldt
in 1493. When he approached the register to see how much they wanted for the 8
pages, the response was $1.00. “You want $1.00?” Robert asked in total
“OK,” the teller said, “take them for 75 cents.” They were worth thousands.
during the Holocaust and came to , because
of a commitment the college had made to help Jewish refugees. But Black
Mountain, NC was struggling
financially and there was not enough work to support him. While walking through
the majestic Robert E. Lee Hall one day he happened to hear Maude practicing
the piano and thus their relationship began. Within the year, however, he moved
back to Black Mountain
where he hoped to find better employment.
Maude left for New York City Boston to study under
Nadia Boulander at the Longy Conservatory in .
She taught music at the Boston Bancroft
School in Worchester,
Massachusetts, and moved to in 1944, when Robert offered her a
job. Robert complained that it took him
a long time to convince her to marry him because of their age difference. One of his wooing techniques was to buy her a
piano for her birthday. She arrived home
to find it being hoisted by a lift into her upstairs apartment. It worked. They married in 1946. New York
Her great love for music was a lifetime career, similar to that of her mother’s. After they were married she taught students out of her home studio and at the Westchester Conservatory of Music in
. There are fond memories of Maude’s love for
jazz and she and the girls dancing around the living room, laughing and moving
with the music. White Plains, NY
Maude was as much into the art and beauty of the sound as Robert was into the art of the picture and the print. Robert loved classical music, Mozart being his personal favorite composer. Robert was known in many circles as an authority on the great composer. An interesting note is that after his marriage to Maude, he realized that their marriage date was the same as Mozart’s marriage date to Constanza, August 4th, and he died the same date as Mozart’s death on Dec. 5th.
One of Maude’s favorite composers was the famous Russian composer and pianist, Rachmaninoff. She found his music wove the great mystery of life into the sadness and tragedy that it often bought. Music was Maude’s emotional life. Cathy and Miriam would often see her easily moved to tears by beautiful music.
Robert lived to be almost 100 years old. During his years in the
he established the Ram Printing Company and photographed many famous people including
Einstein and Toscanini. During his last
years, Maude devoted herself to caring for him, but his care and death took its
toll on her. Three years after Robert
died, Maude experienced a fall that
cracked two vertebrate in her neck. She
moved to United States , to be with her daughter, Cathy,
and son-in-law, Tom. This move, however,
separated her from her granddaughter, Corinna, whose own love for the piano she
had closely nurtured and supported throughout the years. One of Maude’s happiest and most emotionally
fulfilling events in her last year was hearing Corinna present a concert of
difficult piano music she’d worked diligently and lovingly to prepare as a
Christmas gift to her grandmother. As
Maude found herself less able to communicate either verbally or musically, she seemed to lose her desire to live. She died at the age of 80. Asheville, North Carolina