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Haskell Fain
July 1, 1926 - July 26, 2018

Haskell Fain

Haskell Fain
Jul 1, 1926 - Jul 26, 2018

Haskell Fain
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Born July 1, 1926 in New York City, Haskell Fain ("Hack") of San Rafael, CA (formerly of Madison, WI) passed away on Thursday, July 26, 2018 at the age of 92 from renal cancer.

Hack was a philosophy professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1956 to 1993 after earning his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley and serving as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Oslo in Norway from 1954 to 1955. During his career, Hack was a senior Fulbright professor at the University of Bergen, Norway from 1961-62 and also twice served as a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University. He also was a visiting professor at University of California-Berkeley, University of British Columbia, Florida State University, and the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. Hack published two books, Between Philosophy and History (Princeton University Press) and Normative Politics and the Community of Nations (Temple University Press) as well as a number of articles and was an invited speaker at many universities and colleges all over the world.

Living through some of the most turbulent times in the 20th Century, Hack was greatly affected by the Great Depression. He joined the U.S. army at age 17 soon after becoming an Eagle Scout and served as a private first class during WWII (1944-1946). The GI Bill enabled Hack to go to college, which led to his career as a university professor. He taught at the first teach-in at UW-Madison on April 1, 1965 and chaired the UW-Madison philosophy department from 1968-70 and 1972-73, during some of the most intense Vietnam War protests. Hack also taught for the UW program in Florence, Italy in 1983, which instilled in him a lifelong love of Italian language and culture. He continued to learn Italian for many years and was fluent in Norwegian. After he retired, he helped start a Madison coffee group engaged in daily philosophical discussions.

Hack loved telling jokes, playing chess, cooking, and eating delicious meals with good friends. He was greatly loved and will be sorely missed. Hack is survived by his wife Linda Fain, his children Jonathan Fain and Madeline Ellis, his daughter-in-law Erin Fain and son-in-law James Ellis, his stepson Kenneth Lopes and stepdaughter-in-law Jenifer Lopes, his grandchildren Robert, Benjamin, Susan and Daniel Fain and Maximo, Levi, and Bram Ellis, and his sister Mary Fain. He was predeceased by his first wife, Elaine Fain, and his parents, Max and Ethel Fain.

A memorial service honoring Hack will be held at 10:30 AM on Sunday, September 2nd at Cress Funeral Home at 3610 Speedway Road in Madison, WI. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a memorial donation to the UW-Madison "Department of Philosophy Fund - 132679040" at or Oxfam America at

Cress Funeral and Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road, Madison

Jim Ellis on Aug 12, 2018

My boys love hearing Papu Hack's stories about life the Army--as you all know Hack was an amazing story-teller, one you never minded hearing the same story many times. My son Bram had two favorites. The first was how Hack had played dumb to avoid standing out in the military; he was so successful that when this sergeant received a letter saying that the Army was sending Hack to college, the sergeant was stunned and just said, "Fain--you're going to college?? That's the Army for you."

Bram's other favorite was from Hack's basic training days at Camp Fannin in Texas. The camp housed German POWs from Rommel's Africa Corps and Italian soldiers. The food at the US military camp wasn't so good, so Hack and some of his friends used to sneak over to the Italian POW camp for an excellent pasta dinner. His love of food brought him to amazing destinations! Maddy and my boys will always treasure our time and memories with Hack--as will I. Hack's son-in-law - Jim Ellis

Maddy Ellis on Aug 9, 2018


Maddy Ellis on Aug 9, 2018

One of my favorite stories Dad told is when I was a small child I asked him what philosophy was. He said repeat after me, Cogito Ergo Sum. I said "Cogito eggroll sum" and asked him what that meant. He said "It means I think therefore I am an eggroll." I said philosophers sure say funny things, to which he replied that now I was halfway to understanding philosophy.



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Cress Funeral Home - Speedway
3610 Speedway Road
Madison, Wisconsin 53705
10:30 AM

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