Passed away on 18 May, 2020
Adele Hast, 88, passed away peacefully on May 18, at home, with her husband and two sons at her side. She had lived with Alzheimer’s disease for three years. Adele was a research scholar, book editor, and historian. She was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. Adele Hast was born in Manhattan on December 6, 1931, and grew up in the Bronx, the third of five children of Louis and Kate Krongelb. She attended New York public schools, including Hunter College High School (1949) and Brooklyn College (1953), where she met Malcolm Hast. They did much of their dating while riding the subway together between Brooklyn and the Bronx, and were married in their senior year. Her father Louis’ native tongue was Yiddish and so she spoke it from her earliest years. At age 10, Adele began the formal study of Yiddish at the Workmen’s Circle—arguably her first foray into serious academic pursuits. From 1971-1975 she was a research associate for the Atlas of Early American History at the Newberry Library. From 1976- 1979 she was the associate director of the Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History, also at the Newberry, an institution she loved dearly, her scholarly home. Adele earned a Ph.D. in Early American History from the University of Iowa in 1979. From 1981-1986 she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Marquis Who’s Who books. Later she was Survey Director at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, followed by a stint as Executive Editor at St. James Press. From 1993-2001 she was Project Director and coeditor of Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary. Throughout all of this, an abiding passion of hers was Jewish history and culture and she played a prominent role in the work of the Chicago Jewish Historical Society, including serving terms on its Board of Directors and as President. For many years, Adele conducted research into debts incurred by Americans to British merchants at the time of the Revolutionary War. In 1988, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK). Even into her eighties, she travelled to the Newberry several times a week to continue her research. Adele is survived by Malcolm, her lifelong love and husband of 67 years; by sons David (Diane Rayor) and Howard (JoAnn Olsen); by sister Paula Barrett; and by three grandsons, Daniel, Gabriel, and Julian. Memorial plans are to be determined and will be announced at a later date.
Charlotte and Bernie Adelman and Schwartz
20 June 2020
Bernie and I mourn the loss of Adele Hast. We counted her and still count Malcolm as among our closest friends. Despite all the comings and goings that compose our life styles, we and the Hast couple managed to spend decades eating dinner together. A frequent goal was going somewhere that provided good ale for Malcolm to imbibe. We also met for meals in Wisconsin where we both had second homes. Ours, which we still have, is on a marshy lake home to many birds, including sand hill cranes. The Hast retreat included a genuine silo and was adjacent to a working farm. Different sides of Wisconsin.
Adele was generous to me. Because of her I learned of the First International Jewish Women's Conference in Kiev, Ukraine in 1994. Attending this excellent event also enabled me and my husband Bernie to visit Brusilov, a town in which my late father grew up. Along with his mother and sister, my father escaped from a deadly 1919 pogrom in which the "bandits" as he called them forced the Jewish men into the synagogue and burned them alive. I also met Ukrainian relatives living in Kiev, and created contacts with whom I remain in touch and with whom we explore our ancestries.
As a "second wave" feminist, Adele recommended me to Newberry Library to enable them to collect my "papers". The connection enabled me, as the Women's Bar Association of Illinois' archivist and historian to store at Newberry the WBAI's newly received items after the Chicago History Museum stopped accepting new archival materials for its collections.
Adele, a warm and sweet human being, possessed a vast reservoir of knowledge and insights which I had hoped to share but her death intervened. As world events seem increasingly inexplicable to me, I often think of Adele saying that what we are observing is history as it is happening.
Bernie and I offer our deepest condolences to the Hast family for the loss of the irreplaceable and much missed Adele.
5 June 2020
David and family,
We are so sorry for the loss of your mother. I had such fun talking about history with her when she visited Grand Rapids, and I know Charlie enjoyed his many conversations with her as well. We’re wishing peace to you and your family as you find consolation in your memories.
Sheila, Charlie and Molly McGrath
4 June 2020
Deepest Sympathy to the family on your loss. Adele's warmth and leadership will be sadly missed by her fellow Caxtonians.
The Caxton Club
3 June 2020
What an amazing life. Although Rebeca and I did not have the opportunity to meet her, we admire her intellect and her dedication to the people she loved.
1 June 2020
The first time we met, Adele (Malcolm too!) welcomed me as a daughter. She was always warm and kind. I'll miss her.
1 June 2020
We encourage family and friends to post their memories of Adele here. Thank you.