Charles Haas, the second child of William and Bertha Haas, was born on February 16, 1884. As the eldest son, Charles was involved in the family business. He left home in 1913, when he married Fanny Stern (1891-1920), daughter of Jacob Stern, the second president of the Levi Strauss Company and grandniece of Levi Strauss. They had two children, Madeleine and William (Billy) who became the main heirs of Levi Strauss.

Charles Haas
Charles Haas, Fanny Stern, Madeleine
Billy and Madeleine
Madeleine Haas Russell c.1940
Morton Vrang, family driver
Train set built by Morton Vrang

Levi Strauss, the founder of Levi Strauss & Co., never married, but he left his thriving business to his four nephews:  Jacob, Sigmund, Louis, and Abraham Stern. Jacob and Sigmund served as presidents of the company after Levi’s death.

Sigmund Stern and his wife Rosalie Meyer had a daughter named Elise.  She married Walter A. Haas, Sr., who was the son of Abraham Haas, brother of the William Haas. Walter joined Levi Strauss & Co. in 1919 at the request of Sigmund and served as president from 1928 to 1954. He was a trusted mentor and advisor to Fanny Stern's and Charles Haas’ daughter Madeleine.


Walter Haas, Sr. (William Haas’ nephew) served as President of Levi Strauss & Co. from 1928 to 1954. Walter’s two sons: Walter, Jr., and Peter both served as President of Levi Strauss & Co. — Walter from 1958-1970 and Peter from 1970-1981. Walter Jr.’s son Robert (the great-great-grandnephew of company founder Levi Strauss) served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Levi Strauss & Co. in 1984. 


Both Charles and Fanny passed away at a young age. At the age of 12 and 11, Madeleine and Billy, with driver Morton Vrang, moved from their opulent home on Washington Street to a spacious suite built for them above the garage of the Haas-Lilienthal House, where their Aunt Alice and Uncle Sam became their guardians. The two orphans joined their three cousins, aunt, and uncle for family meals in the main House. Tragically, Billy, like his parents, would die at a young age, succumbing to a heart infection at twenty-seven. Young Madeleine would be the sole survivor of her family of four.  


Madeleine was very close to her maternal grandfather, the avid pianist, and art collector Jacob Stern, who instilled in her a love of art and music. She and her cousins, Alice’s daughters Frances and Elizabeth Lilienthal, went to college, the first generation of Haas-Lilienthal women to do so. The year after she returned home, she and her brother, both still in their mid-twenties, created Columbia Foundation, one of the earliest family foundations in Northern California and among the most progressive and ambitious. She later succinctly expressed their goal: “civil rights and people's welfare. We wanted to make the world better for other people.”


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