Life and Times
Rudolph Gustav Hass (5 June 1892 – 24 October 1952) was the discoverer of what we now know as the Hass variety of avocado. As of 2012, it was 95% of the avocado production in California.
Hass was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1892. He was generally called Rudie / Rudy by his friends and family.
In 1907, at the age of 15, he quit school to go to work. During World War I, he tried to enlist in the American army, but was turned down owing to a congenital heart murmur. In 1918, he met Elizabeth Schuette (1899-1997) at the 4th of July church picnic that year. Hass did “mission work” with children on weekends, and asked her to play the piano for that. She agreed, the couple fell in love, and they married on 2 August 1919 in Milwaukee.
In 1923, they moved to Pasadena, California, where he got a job the same year selling socks and ties for men door to door. Then he switched to selling Maytag washing machines.
In 1925, he got a job at the Pasadena Post Office, where he did a walking route for 10 years.
In the same year, 1925, inspired by a magazine article about how much money there was to be made from growing avocados, he bought a small 1 ½ acre avocado grove.
From the avocado tree seeds that he planted, one would become the avocado that we know today as the Hass avocado. For the full story, see the entry on Hass Avocados.
In 1935, at the age of 43, he was awarded a plant patent for the new avocado. In the same year, the post office switched him from a walking route to a car route, owing to his heart condition.
In 1948, he moved to Fallbrook, California, to start a new 80 acre orchard there. In 1952, the first crop came of it.
In August 1952, his patent expired. He died two months later, on 24 October 1952 of heart failure at Fallbrook Hospital and was buried 28 October 1952.
The couple had three boys and two girls. One of the boys was named Charles. One of the daughters was named Faith Pauline. Later in life, Hass’ wife Elizabeth moved to live with Faith in Hesperia, California, and died there in Hesperia in 1997 at the age of 98. A survivor’s pension from Rudy’s post office job had supported her.
Faith Wilkes Obiturary. Retrieved August 2012 from http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/desertdispatch/obituary.aspx?n=faith-wilkes&pid=144590362