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. In 1913, 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).

Charles Haas, Fanny Stern, Madeleine
Billy and Madeleine
Charles Haas
Madeleine Haas Russell c.1940

Levi Strauss, the founder of Levi Strauss & Co., never married. 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 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 and Charles Haas’ daughter, Madeleine.

Walter Haas, Sr. (William's 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. 


At the age of 12 and 11, Madeleine and Billy, were essentially orphaned, having lost both of their parents in the span of seven years. Their Aunt Alice and Uncle Sam became their guardians. In 1928, they, along with their driver, Morton Vrang, and their nurse, moved from their home on Washington Street to an addition attached to the main house at 2007 Franklin St.

Tragically, Billy would die at a young age, succumbing to a heart infection at twenty-seven. Young Madeleine would be the sole survivor of her family.  

Madeleine was very close to her maternal grandfather, 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 The Columbia Foundation, one of the earliest family foundations in Northern California and among the most progressive and ambitious. She later expressed their goal: “civil rights and people's welfare. We wanted to make the world better for other people.”






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