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Remembering Robert Haas Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

19 October 2021

Robert (Bobby) Haas, whose aerial photographs were published by National Geographic Books, died Sept. 28 from a respiratory illness in Dallas at the age of 74.

Born in Cleveland, his father was a car dealer and his mother a women's fashion consultant.

He was graduated from Yale in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in psychology before graduating from Harvard Law School in 1972. He worked for both a law firm and a venture capital outfit in Cleveland before moving to Dallas to create Hicks & Hass with Thomas Hicks.

The two of them led a group of investors in leveraged buyouts of 7-Up and Dr. Pepper, selling a 49 percent stake for $600 million to Prudential-Bache Securities in 1988.

"I was 41 years old and I'm where I thought I might be when I was 71, times 10," Haas said.

The partnership dissolved after five years but Haas remained in the private equity field as Haas & Partners and later Haas, Wheat & Partners for two more decades.

But in 1994 he indulged a new passion, buying $2,000 in camera equipment to visit a game reserve in Kenya on a photo safari. He had no idea what he was doing photographically but he learned from pros and, after returning to Africa for multiple visits, published A Vision of Africa in 1998.

That same year he chartered a helicopter on safari again and "felt like a completely different photographer" as he looked down from the seat he was strapped into.

National Geographic Books published his aerial photos in Through the Eyes of the Gods: An Aerial Vision of Africa (2005) and Through the Eyes of the Condo: An Aerial Vision of Latin America (2007).

Aerial photography was the Holy Grail, he said, "the ability to capture an image that no one else has ever captured before and is very unlikely to be captured again."

National Geographic also published Through the Eyes of the Vikings: An Aerial Vision of Arctic Lands (2010) with his images of Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Iceland and Alaska.

Ten years ago he became interested in motorcycles with sidecars, collecting them, riding them and even commissioning new ones. He opened the Haas Moto Museum in 2018, which now has 230 motorcycles.

Last year he decided to bequeath the commissioned motorcycles back to their creators, returning to them "the children of your souls."

He is survived by his companion Stacey Mayfield, a brother and sister, three daughters and four grandchildren.

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