Robert W. Haisman (Bob/Hais) died of heart failure on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. Born in Chicago on Oct. 7, 1945, he greeted life with gusto and never stopped his pursuit of knowledge. He was fascinated by people, especially young people, and this made him an outstanding teacher at Hinsdale South High School where he championed the rights and responsibilities of students and teachers. He was a good listener, which endeared him to others and made him a friend to many. His outreach was legendary, and he will truly be missed.

He grew up in a blue collar family in Berwyn and loved being outdoors, playing with the guys. But on Saturdays, he had to work with his dad. At an early age, Bob accompanied his mom on political errands, raising awareness of Democratic candidates and ringing doorbells to ask for support. By his teens, he was an expert, and his allegiance to liberal views never wavered. He always said that on his family’s wall were photos of Jesus, the Pope, and Franklin Roosevelt (his own wall displayed King, Clinton and Obama). A precinct captain for state Sen. Phil Rock, he also worked with state Sen. Don Harmon in many capacities. It was his dream come true to be able to work in the HQ of Obama’s two campaigns.

In every photo from his early days at Haley School, he is smiling broadly. In fifth grade, a teacher called his parents for a conference and encouraged them to send him to college. That had not been in the plan, but they adjusted their sights and made sure it would happen. He began college at “UCLA” (University of Cicero, located on Austin), what the locals called Morton Junior College. Two years later he enrolled at Illinois State where he earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Graduating in 1968, he was hired at Hinsdale South High School to teach history. The school was brand-new, many young teachers were hired, and many became lifelong friends. Among students, he was known as Hais. He immediately joined the HHSTA (Hinsdale High School Teachers’ Association), beginning his long career in union work, fighting for the rights of teachers and students. During his 30+ year career at Hinsdale, he organized spaghetti dinners and many other methods for raising money for student activities and was a leader in every fight for better wages and working conditions for teachers and support personnel. He took a six-year leave from Hinsdale to serve two terms as president of the Illinois Education Association (IEA). When he arrived, the organization was apparently rife with internal dissension. He, along with Executive Director Clay Marquardt, found ways to create a positive framework for serving districts across the state.

If one had to choose the activity that showcased his heart and soul, it would have been teaching high school students. Being young and enthusiastic, he was a hit. He had a great sense of humor, worked tirelessly at creating lesson plans that would engage students, and treated them as young adults rather than children.

Later in life, he worked hard on issues of social justice, poverty, hunger, gun violence and more. While he had no children of his own, he and his wife, Janet, had many nieces and nephews with whom they shared holidays and travel experiences, which included an overland trip from Germany to Russia; a small safari experience to Tanzania; short cruises to Mexico; staying in private homes in Cuba; a trip to Italy; and one last big one to Australia. He and Janet celebrated their 40th anniversary this past July on an Ohio River cruise.

Bob was pre-deceased by his parents, Louis and Mildred; his brother, Wayne; his brother-in-law, David; his sister-in-law, Grace; and many dear friends. In addition to his wife Janet, survivors include Haisman family nephews and their families, Dale (DeDe, Chris, Caitlin) and Brett (Tammie, Shannon, Sam); former sisters-in-law Diane and Margie; brother-in-law Jack Knowles and his children and their families, Jacqui (Trish), Ben (Elizabeth, Maisie), and Rachel (Ashley, Kenzie, Claire); and David’s children, Juliet (Sage, Lindsey, Autumn) and Adam (Alma, Camila, Victoria). All considered him to be the best uncle they could have ever wished for.

A celebration of his life will be held on Oct. 7 (his 78th birthday) at 2 p.m., at First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St., Oak Park (corner of Lake and Kenilworth). There will be a reception afterward, and we expect many stories will be shared as people gather. The memorial service will be livestreamed at If updated messages are needed, they will be posted at

Suggested charities include Beyond Hunger, our local food pantry, where Bob worked for many years and served on the board; or First United Church of Oak Park. Both share the same address: 848 Lake St., Oak Park, IL 60301, and both accept online donations.

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