Dr. Byron Haines Philosophy Professor Emeritus
1936 to 2008
Dr. Byron Haines served as a Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University since 1965. He was dedicated and passionate about education, and was teaching a seminar; Morality, Self-interest & Reason, at the time of his death. Byron was a valued member of the Department and University, and he is greatly missed.
Byron was a gentle man. Don Moor once made a joke about Byron and Peter Nicholls as kids getting into a "Did not! Did too!" squabble. It was funny because you had trouble imagining how that could be.
The Department hired Byron as an Ethics specialist in 1965. He taught our Advanced Ethics course throughout his career at PSU. He took his responsibilities seriously, cultivating his subject in his students, and was proud of those who went on to graduate school and to teaching and writing in the field. He prized them, and others, as his friends, as they did him.
For the 1969-70 year when the Department went from being run by a Head to a near pure democracy, Byron was elected Department Chairman. That year we settled on our Constitution and hired four new people, both daunting tasks. As Chairman Byron shouldered more of the load than anybody, opening the way to thirty-five years of largely collegial fulfillment of our duties.
His death, as others, leaves a strange gap in our lives, occupied by thoughts and feelings about him. They are most acute now, but will not go away until we do.
Unless my memory is even worse than I have supposed, Byron was promoted to Professor fairly early. One significant achievement was the organizing of the Northwest Conference on Philosophy meeting some time during the seventies. As President of the conference he attracted the participation of many of the eminent philosophers in the region. This seems to me to be a testament to the high regard accorded him by his colleagues outside Portland State. Byron played an important part in helping a visiting Chinese philosopher, Ben Fen Qi, to get a firm grasp on Western Philosophy. She had been assigned to teach this, though she had no training in it apart from the Marxist slant on it. Byron was helpful and encouraging. Ben Fen spent two fruitful years here and was very grateful for Byron's help.
All of Byron's colleagues and students know how deeply thoughtful Byron was (in the original sense of that word, meaning full-of-thought), how careful and clear he was as a philosopher. But I bet many of the younger folks will not know that Byron and Leslie were the social, 'familial', hub of the Department in the 60s and 70s. I literally met most people in the Dept. at a party hosted by Byron and Leslie in 1968; Peter was there as an off-to-grad-school graduating senior. And it was merely the first (for me) of many such gatherings; Byron always had a pot of soup on the stove-the two of them always ready to open their home to us. I can't even count the number of times when their home was our home, our gathering-place.
He was also a fine basketball player, point guard for the Phl Dept team, and like Michael Philips, Byron played on his college team. With Roger Dexter and I as forwards, Michael as center, we were an awesome combo. Decency will not allow me to tell you our name for the team.
And as we all know, Bryon was one of the kindest as well as most scrupulously moral beings in the world. We already miss him.