Monday, June 3, 2024

(290) Larry Haas (1961-2021) From Operating Room Nurse to Cancer Patient.......Care Giver to Care Receiver


A photo of Larry Haas in his prime as an operating room nurse in Columbus and later St. Mary’s Hospital in Huntington. 

            It’s three years this April that we lost Larry Haas.  Jaga and I brought him Holy Communion every Sunday during his fight against cancer.  His closeness to God continues to inspire.  He shared a lot with us and gave me some photos and other materials.  I promised that I would use it in an article that I would share with the members of our parish community and the knights. 

When he seemed to be winning his battle with cancer, Larry wanted to become a knight and in anticipation of becoming one attended a meeting.  If he had recovered his health, Larry would have been one of our most active members.  Thus I believe it is appropriate to write his story in our Knights of Columbus Newsletter.  We all can learn from his experience because sooner or later the time will come when each one of us will have to confront a serious medical problem and we all will pass into eternity.

The operating room where Larry Haas worked.

Larry Haas devoted his life to serving others as an operating room nurse first in Columbus and later at St. Mary’s Hospital in Huntington.  Larry Haas was instrumental in saving the lives of many a patient and helping them to recover.  His work included operating a heart-lung machine as a specialist in Perfusion Science.  He had considerable contact with anesthesia, disinfectants, etc. over many years.  

Finally, a carcinogen got to Larry and he fought cancer (multiple myeloma) with frequent doses of chemo, initially once a week and later once a month depending upon his blood level.  The doctor tried to keep a delicate balance of drugs to maintain a stable blood level.  He still suffered from severe pain and fatigue.  

The former health care worker made a career of serving others and trying to follow in the footsteps of the great healer.  Reminiscent of St. Damian who died of leprosy, Larry became a cancer patient himself and had to go through much of the turmoil and struggle, physical and  spiritual that his patients had to go through. 

Despite a prognosis of only 3-5 months, he depended upon doctors and nurses serving him for the next 18 years…..radiation, chemo, new forms of chemo, and more treatments…….progress, hope and then setbacks. He was hospitalized for pneumonia, caught Covid, and got over them both.  He never gave up and continued to trust in the Lord with faith and courage.  What a valiant fight!  

Larry would still make it to Mass when he could, wearing a mask even before the Covid-19 Pandemic because his immune system was compromised by the chemo.  He even attended one of our Diocesan Men’s Conferences.


Larry is with a former nurse, his beautiful wife Lee Ann who faithfully stood by him and cared for him until the end even though she herself had cancer.  Really they gave care to each other.  She had a video prepared for his funeral.  On the cover are the words: “No matter what the distance is, I will be with you…” from the song by Wolfgang Van Halen. That perhaps is being echoed by Lee Ann to Larry today.

      His wife Lee Ann, a beautiful person, has three different cancers and continues to fight on.  Both had a tremendous faith and trust in God through it all.  It’s beautiful how Lee and Larry took care of each other while Patty Hays regularly took him to the Cleveland Clinic for treatment.  Their faith, courage, and determination to continue on is exemplary.  They are unsinkable. 

Jaga and I brought Communion to Larry every week to complete the Mass on EWTN until Covid-19 hit.  We told them that suffering is a mystery and can be very productive.  That is by uniting their crosses with the Lord’s cross and offering it all up to the Lord as a dynamic prayer for the Church, our country, and for loved ones can be most effective.  Accepted in that way with trust in the Lord can make one a saint.  The Church calls it "Redemptive Suffering".  They were doing that and it gave them strength to continue on.

       Mother Theresa was “especially keen on the tremendous value of redemptive suffering.  Once a  journalist asked, “Mother, to what do you attribute the tremendous success of your order, over 400 nuns all over the world .  She explained that they have a corps of sick, suffering, and invalid people, each of whom are matched with one of her nuns.  Each is called the particular nun's “other person”.  The other person's mission is to offer up his/her cross for the work of the nun.  

Permit me to share some thoughts from Larry Haas himself in his own words from notes he left with me “with the prayerful and humble intention of possibly helping others suffering from cancer”.  In October 2003 he received the diagnosis of  Multiple Myeloma which has a six month life expectancy.  “I was immediately crushed.  My wife and I took a two week spiritual pilgrimage to Rome to see St. John Paul II as he was offering his sufferings up to God.  I came back with a better sense of the purpose of life”.  Our time on earth is really a preparation for eternity.

Then a patient instead of a health care worker giving care, “I learned to humble myself and let others help me.  My parents suffering showed me how to suffer for the good of others.  Larry quoted St. John of Avila: “You may well be content to serve our Lord in illness; for when He calls people to suffer instead of working for Him, He is calling them to a higher state.  It is most fitting that we should carry the cross with Christ.” 

“God’s plans and our plans aren’t always the same, but in the end God knows best.  He has a reason for all of us to be here even if we don’t see it right away.  God doesn’t always give us what we ask for, but He gives us what we need ”. 

Larry had a tremendous admiration for his parents, who “learned to rely on God for His help and guidance especially through the Great Depression.”  His father Don served in World War II at the age of 17 as a marksman and frogman (today Navy seal) who often dove without scuba gear.  “Don entrusted everything to God and made it home alive.”  This Navy veteran continued to serve our country by suffering for the rest of his life due to the severe mental effects of PTSD.  

His mother, “Rose Mary’s health was not very good.  She had many surgeries, including fibroids that left a quarter of an ovary.  She was told she had less than a 5% chance of having kids.  With God’s help Barbie, Larry, and Carolyn were born.  In 1980 Rose Mary developed breast cancer and died in 1987.  She; offered her prayers and sufferings to God for others as she went through her treatments. This trust in God was such a gift handed to us kids.  Our parents are also our heroes.”  This shows the legacy that parents give to their children that has effects for eternity……for good or bad.

Thank you brother knight (certainly in spirit) for your inspiration and for sharing your thoughts with us.  Thank you for making your suffering, your cross a prayer by offering it all to God for us and for praying for us now from eternity.  May we put into practice what we learned from you until we meet again in Heaven.  Let’s all make sure that we get there.  You made it; so can we with God’s grace!  

This thought gives the prayer….“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now AND at the hour of our death.”…renewed meaning and importance especially when we see others go through a passion before death and can anticipate our own passion sooner or later.  We can’t say that prayer too many times.  Pray the Rosary and offer up every cross for peace and for the conversion of sinners.


AMDG (Delivered at His Memorial Mass at St. Louis Church on April 27, 2021)


        The prayer….“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now AND at the hour of our death.”…….never had as much meaning to me than when we had the privilege of bringing the Eucharist to Larry three days before he died.  He was very restless and in severe pain, perhaps undergoing spiritual warfare.  He was going through his personal passion as we all will have to go through sooner or later.  So I learned that we cannot say that prayer too many times and in the rosary.  We all will very much need Mary’s prayers at the hour of our death.

       Larry Haas followed in the footsteps of the great healer as a respiratory therapist and perfusionist in open heart surgery for over thirty years until cancer forced him to retire.  Since 2003 with a prognosis of 3 to 5 months to live and a trip to Rome with a papal audience, Larry fought a valient battle…..radiation, chemo, new forms of chemo, and more treatments…….progress, hope and then setbacks.  He never gave up and continued to trust in the Lord with faith and courage.  He faithfully attended the Sunday Vigil Mass while he was able.  We would often talk after Mass.  Larry even attended a few of our men’s conferences despite feeling very tired.   He wanted to join our Knights of Columbus and attended a meeting with great enthusiasm.  Too bad that cancer would not permit his formally becoming a member. 

        Later, as Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers, Jaga and I had the opportunity to know Larry well.  It was an awesome privilege to bring Christ Himself and His love to Larry in Holy Communion on Sundays when he could not attend Mass, to pray with him, and to help him in a little way prepare for his encounter with the Lord in eternity.  

Jaga and I were supposed to minister to Larry, but he ministered to us as much or more than we did to him.  He placed great value on the Eucharist and it gave him strength to continue on.  

One priest commented that “Those who die of cancer die like saints.  That statement is certainly true in regard to Larry.  He taught us how to live and he taught us how to die.  He was resigned to the will of God with great trust in His Providence……..that no matter what, it would somehow work out for the best in the long run.

        We prayed that the Lord would use all that Larry was going through to make him a saint and we believe He has.  We could see him grow spiritually.  Towards the end, Larry was ready, resigning himself to the will of God, knowing that the Lord is with Him.    

At Fatima Mary not only asked for repentance; she also asked us to “Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners.”  Indeed, Larry offered up his aches and pains of his 18 year ordeal, the effects of chemo, and all of his suffering for that intention. 

Larry united his cross with the Lord’s cross and offered it all up to God through Mary as a dynamic prayer for the Church in crisis, the missions, for our country, for a better world and for his loved ones.  God knows how much our country and our world need prayer.  The prayers of the sick and the suffering are most valuable and very effective.  Thus Larry was very productive until the moment he died.  May we follow his example now and when our time inevitably comes.

Lee Ann, his wife, also has cancer and the couple took care of each other as it should be in marriage.  After all, marriage is supposed to be mutual sanctification and Larry taught Lee Ann much about the Church.

According to Lee Ann: “Last December Larry went to the Cleveland Clinic, but despite precautions somehow caught Covid.  Larry was on the list for a new chemo treatment that could have saved his life, but it had to be delayed because of Covid.  Larry was determined to return to me and he beat Covid!  But the cancer became uncontrollable.  That last month with him was precious”.

Towards the end it was much more difficult for Lee Ann.  “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”  She followed her marriage vows to the end even to the point of exhaustion.  However, Patty Hays was there as an angel to help and to comfort.  She drove him many times to his doctors throughout the area.  Thank you Lee Ann, family, Patty, and Mario for the faithful support and love you have given.  

We love you, Larry.  Good-by until we see you again.  I know that you will be waiting for us when we’re all together again for that most joyful reunion in Heaven.  Let’s make sure that we all get there by being faithful practicing Christians with our lives and cooperate with God’s grace……every one of us!  I’m sure Larry will be praying for us along the way.

 Lawrence Haas Obituary

GALLIPOLIS — Lawrence Joseph Haas, 59 of Gallipolis, Ohio, passed away at home on April 13, 2021. He was born on December 21, 1961 in Ironton, Ohio. He was the son of Donald C. and Rose Mary Schweickart Haas who preceded him in death.

Larry graduated from St. Joseph's Catholic High School in Ironton in 1980, then attended Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia; Ohio University, Athens, Ohio; The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Allied Medical Professions Respiratory Therapy in 1985, working there until 1989.

He then attended and graduated from The Christ Hospital School of Perfusion Science, Cincinnati, Ohio in 1992. He returned to Ironton to help care for his father, working at St. Mary's Medical Center as a Certified Clinical Perfusionist until retirement in 2015.

He is survived by his wife Lee Ann Baker-Haas, daughter, Heather Baker, sisters, Barbie Staggs and Carolyn (Eric) Edwards, brother-in-law's, Charles (Odelia ) Baker and Ryan (Ann) Baker, many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews and many beloved friends.

Larry lived to help other people, remaining active in the Catholic community as long as possible. He enjoyed learning, reading, teaching, biking, exercising and spending time with his precious cats.

Due to COVID-19, a funeral liturgy with Mass will be held for the family only. Burial will be at the Catholic Cemetery on St. Rt. 141 in Gallipolis.

A memorial Mass will be on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 11 a.m. at St. Louis Catholic Church.

In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Catholic Relief Services, Billy Two Shoes, St. Louis Catholic Church or a charity of your choosing.

Arrangements are conducted by Waugh-Halley-Wood Funeral Home.

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Published by Ohio Valley Publishing from Apr. 19 to Apr. 20, 2021.