Joseph Haasl

December 21, 1919 ~ December 15, 2021 (age 101)

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Joseph Haasl, of Babbitt, MN, passed away peacefully on December 15th, 2021, just six days shy of his 102nd birthday.  In his later years, the first thing that Joe would want you to know about him was that he was a World War II veteran who fought in the European theater at the end of that war.  Of course, his family would tell you that there was much more to him.  

They would tell you that he was a very social guy, easy to converse with, who was loved by all who knew him, his family, his friends, and his caregivers at Babbitt Carefree Living. They would tell you that he was a responsible father, working two jobs in order to care for his growing family: as a welder at Reserve Mining Company and a car mechanic at the local garage, where people came from miles around to get their wheels aligned and balanced.  They would tell you that he was a mechanical genius, inventing and building things that were often “ahead of their time”: one of the first snowmobiles (complete with “reverse” and useful accessories such as an engine-driven ice augur and a snowplow); a pontoon boat using empty barrels for flotation; a pop-up camper; a camper van; a wood stove capable of blowing warmed air through the house’s furnace ducts during the frigid northern Minnesota winters; and even games for his kids and grandkids.  They would tell you that he always lived within his means and was a master at fixing, re-using and recycling whenever possible instead of purchasing new—including repairing damaged cars for family use or for one of his kids. They would tell you how he generously shared his talents, helping with his adult children’s home improvement projects and helping friends with car problems. They would tell you that he was a person of faith and prayer, a founding member of St. Pius X Catholic Church, and an active member of the Knights of Columbus.  They would tell you that Joe loved to golf (especially with family at the Joe Haasl Open during each annual family reunion), was “a shark” at the pool table with his Arizona buddies, loved square dancing, enjoyed playing cards, and in his latter years even entertained family with his harmonica. They would tell you that he loved his travels to the Canadian Rockies, Hawaii, a cruise to Panama, and driving to Alaska. They would tell you that Joe loved company and was always happy to talk and even share a joke (who among us has not heard his accent-laden story of the skunk, or his toast to Adam and Eve)!  

Joe’s was the rare life that spanned 12 decades. He was born December 21, 1919, the seventh of ten children to Emma (Benish) and Joe Haasl, and raised on a farm near Ladysmith, WI, during the Great Depression. A favorite boyhood story was how, as an 11-year-old boy, he got under a broken-down rented car and fixed it, his terrified mother running after him when she spotted him driving it back home.  At the end of World War II, when he was told, “Joe, time to go home,” he returned to Wisconsin and married the love of his life, Marie VanderLoop, in November of 1945.  Joe and Marie shared 37 wonderful years, lovingly raising their six children.  They moved to Babbitt in 1957. Joe’s heart was broken when Marie died from cancer in early 1983. Later, Joe married Shirley Nelson, a widow from Grand Marais. Married 37 years, they spent summers in Babbitt and winters in Apache Junction, AZ, until it became too difficult to make the annual trek.  In 2017, Joe moved back to Minnesota to be near family.

When asked what he attributed his long life to, Joe responded, “staying busy.”  His advice was frequently a gentle “just do the best you can” and “take one day at a time.” A word that aptly describes Joe was his resilience, his amazing ability to keep bouncing back after difficult setbacks. As he gradually yielded to things beyond his control towards the end of his life, he displayed a remarkable acceptance and overflowing gratitude. For his long and generous life, we can only shout from the mountaintops a joyous and grateful “Alleluia.”

Joe is preceded in death by his beloved wife Marie, his faithful second wife Shirley, son-in-law Michael Esler and daughter-in-law Colleen Haasl, his parents Emma and Joseph Haasl, his brothers Ralph, Leonard (Cecil), Donald (Mary), Walter, Frederick (Hilda), and George (Dorothy), and sisters Clara (Ben) Entoff, Mildred (Richard) Fandel, and Lillian (Ray) Cronick; many more brothers-in law and sisters-in-law from Marie’s side; and Shirley’s daughter Donna Nathe.

He is survived by his six children (and spouses) Daniel Haasl, Marian (John) Klobuchar, Jean Esler, Michael (Mickie Micklewright) Haasl, Andrew (Beth) Haasl, and Dolores (Matt) Lehman; 14 grandchildren: Benjamin (Kristen) Haasl, Gavin (Emily) Haasl, Tim (Susan) Klobuchar, Jennifer (Michael) Zgonc, Melissa (Jay) Wetzel, Michelle (Dale) Uttke, Angela (Chris) Whelan, Joseph (Aly) Esler, Emmamarie Haasl, Mary Haasl, Ida (John) Wierzchowski, Claire (David Hoyt) Haasl, Allison (Michael) Payne, and Kelsey (Zack) Tamble; 24 great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law Gertrude O’Brien, Audrey (Don) Kvist, Ann (Jack) Hauber, and brothers-in-laws Tony (Julie) VanderLoop and George (Kathy) VanderLoop; scores of nephews and nieces; and Shirley’s children, Leslie Nelson, Nancy Ryan, Betty Clymen, Nancy Ryan, Jeanne Nelson and Rick Nelson.

The family would like to express their profound gratitude for the loving care Joe received at Babbitt Carefree Living, including the excellent care from the East Range Hospice Team. 

The funeral is tentatively schedule for 11 a.m. at St. Pius X Church in Babbitt, MN, on June 24, 2022, with burial in Argo Cemetery.

One may participate in Joe’s legacy by trying to “fix” something (a toy, a shirt with a detached button, or even a car!) rather than buying new, saying your daily prayers, just taking “one day at a time,” and being grateful.  Memorials can be made to St. Pius X Catholic Church in Babbitt or a veterans organization such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

Family arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home.  

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joseph Haasl, please visit our floral store.


Funeral Service
June 24, 2022

11:00 AM
St. Pius X Church (Argo Cemetery)
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