Charles C. Haffner III devoted his professional career to R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, founded by his great-grandfather—and his philanthropic career to books, art, education, and nature, bringing an extraordinary level of dedication and leadership to organizations and institutions that reflected his principles and his passion. A graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, Charlie was the son of World War II hero Major General Charles C. Haffner, Jr., and he himself served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950’s. He died April 30 at the age of 83.
After helping establish the Newberry’s Associates Council, Charlie joined the Newberry Board of Trustees in 1972. Just three years later he became the Board’s vice-chairman, and in 1988 he took the helm as chairman, thus beginning one of the most important periods in the library’s history. It was notable for a long-range planning process that created a vision for the institution’s future, and that resulted in the launch of a $20 million capital campaign. Successfully completed in 2001, the campaign enabled the Newberry to stabilize its financial foundation and reach a much larger audience through enlarged public programing.
As part of the campaign, Charlie himself contributed the resources to clean the Newberry’s Cobb Building and restore it to its original beauty and luster. Here was a gift that has benefited not only the Newberry itself but everyone who passes by on Walton, Dearborn, or Clark.
Throughout his remarkable 40-plus-year relationship with the Newberry, Charlie quietly but enduringly employed his unshakeable commitment, boundless generosity, and wonderful wit and sense of humor to advance the Newberry’s cause. We are deeply saddened by his passing, and he will be greatly, and always, missed.
Charlie is survived by his wife, Anne, and his sons, Ted and Will. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Lincoln Park Zoo, Morton Arboretum, the Huron Mountain Wildlife Fund (in Ann Arbor, MI), or the Newberry.