Dr. Charles James Haug
September 22, 2022
On Friday, September 16, 2022, at 9:00 in the morning, Dr. Charles James (Jim) Haug, the loving father of three sons, Stopher, Marty, and Jimmy, and husband of 55 years, passed away quietly and peacefully at the home he and his wife, Ruth Janet Severson Haug, built together 42 years ago in Starkville, Mississippi. Ruth was by his side at the time of his passing, and they were holding hands.
Jim was born on April 14, 1946, in Minot, North Dakota, to Philip and Marie Haug (McLaughlin) of Deering, North Dakota (population of about 136 at the time). He grew up on the family farm in Deering, where he learned the ways of farm life alongside his father, and enjoyed spending time with his grandfather and original homesteader, Ole Christian. Jim’s farming days culminated in his earning the award of “Outstanding Young Sheepherder of North Dakota” while in high school, and his experience with farm life also encouraged him to explore other opportunities for a career path. Growing up in Deering with his younger sister, Judy, Jim enjoyed playing hoops, riding his horse, hunting for gophers, and reading every book he could get his hands on. In 1964, he graduated from Deering High School, where his mother had been a career teacher and administrator, and attended the University of North Dakota (UND) on scholarship, where he met and fell in love with his partner for life, Ruth.
Jim and Ruth were married September 7, 1967. They lived in the “tin huts” on the UND campus and were very active—they fervently rallied support for the end of the war, went on dates ranging from fraternity and sorority events to hockey games and nights out at the library and the student union, and traveled often to visit Jim’s family or to camp with Ruth’s family, which most often found them gathered at Cass Lake, Minnesota. While in college, Jim’s interests were varied and included DJ-ing for the university radio station, working at the post office, and obtaining a lifeguard certification (despite a swimming style that he would later liken to doggie-paddling). After completing his honors thesis on the Industrial Workers of the World (published in the North Dakota Quarterly, his first published work), Jim graduated alongside Ruth in 1968, with both earning Bachelor of Arts degrees. Also in 1968, Jim was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship that allowed the couple to live in Bordeaux, France for a year, which began a life-long love affair of all things French. After Bordeaux, they moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where Jim pursued his PhD in European History from the University of Kansas (KU).
While at KU, Jim focused his studies on 17th and 18th century French history, and also learned Fortran, one the first computer coding languages, and became very involved with early and revolutionary methods of computer mapping techniques. Ruth and Jim cheered for the Jayhawks (he would forever chant Rock, Chalk Jayhawk) and welcomed Sally, the first of what would be many poodles in their lives. Shortly thereafter, Sally was joined by Coco, a white miniature poodle that they found in distress (in a sign of what Coco had experienced, and also a testament to Jim, he was the only adult male that Coco ever became comfortable with during what would be her sixteen years with the family). While at KU, Jim received a Fellowship in 1972 that allowed Ruth and Jim to spend a year in Paris and Nice while Jim continued dissertation research on what would become his first book, Leisure and Urbanism, a historical study of 19th century Nice and the growth and development of the French Riviera.
After returning to the States, Ruth and Jim welcomed their first child, Christopher Christian (“Stopher”) into the world in March 1974. After Jim obtained his PhD from KU and received an offer of a faculty position as an assistant professor in the History Department at Mississippi State University, the family moved to Starkville, Mississippi, in 1976, where Jim and Ruth would remain together for the next 46 years.
Shortly after arriving in Starkville and being introduced to grits and the joys—along with the lessons in patience and humility—of following MSU athletics, Jim and Ruth welcomed their second son, Charles Martin (Marty) into the world in May 1977. The expanded family continued their tradition of adventures, and in 1979 the family traveled to Paris where they lived for a year while Jim was on sabbatical doing research. While in France, Jim and Ruth introduced the boys to the culture and flavor of France, including les escargots and the Palace of Versailles, bouchons (traffic jams), and the Tales of Albator (a French anime-style space pirate character that would be reflected in the kids’ costumes for years to come). During that year, Jim and Ruth also designed what would be the family home just outside of Starkville.
Upon returning Stateside, Jim and Ruth built their dream home and moved to Southgate-in-the Woods where they welcomed their third son, James Robert (Jimmy) in September 1983. During the years to follow, they relished in watching the boys grow, climb trees, ride bikes, build forts in the woods, play soccer, and generally enjoy a quiet childhood and be rascals.
During his teaching career at MSU, Jim taught the history of science and technology, quantitative methods, and modern French history and also graded AP exams. In addition to his several book length publications, Jim wrote several dozen scholarly articles and opinion pieces. He won nearly 20 different fellowships and grants, including two awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Jim retired from Mississippi State in May 2004 as Professor Emeritus.
Throughout his life, Jim enjoyed a variety of passions, including wine-making, cooking competitions, being the “tickle monster,” and camping, boating, and traveling with the family. The family often would embark on month-long camping trips that invariably involved stopping for every brown sign and historical marker along the highway. He would point out to the boys how the fence rows in the upper Midwest plains would extend into the distance until they dropped off the horizon, and he would explain how the rural roads in North Dakota zagged to keep in line with the narrowing lines of longitude. He would stop whenever the boys spotted a pile of rocks that needed to be climbed—even if they had just stopped a few miles before. While driving, he was usually holding Ruth’s hand as the miles went by and Ruth scanned that year’s Rand McNally camping guide looking for the next campsite.
Jim loved coaching the boys’ various sports teams, beginning with volunteering to coach Stopher’s first U-8 soccer team in 1981—despite the fact that at the time his entire understanding of the sport came from watching “Soccer Made in Germany” on the rare occasion when it came on the television. His soccer coaching career continued through Marty’s U-19 team and Jimmy’s U-14 state championship Red Hot Chili Peppers team—and on more than one occasion found him coaching two games at the same time.
Jim’s work schedule as a history professor afforded him the greatest luxury, in that he could generally be home when the kids were at home. He was at home to see the boys on to the bus in the morning, and was at home when the boys got off the bus after school, when he would come down from his study to help with after-school snacks and homework and getting ready for whatever extra-curricular activities might consume the late afternoon. In the summers, when he taught summer school, the boys rode into town with him and spent the hours exploring and playing on State’s beautiful campus. Summer afternoons and weekends at Southgate were often spent in an endless stream of fixing bike tires and chains for all the neighborhood kids.
Fall in Starkville was marked by tailgates and football games. The spring and summer found the family enjoying the greatest venue in college sports, MSU’s Left Field Lounge. The highlight of the summer was the family’s annual “Quatorze Juillet” party, the Bastille Day celebration that became a staple for many friends and family.
The family’s strongest and most lasting tradition, however, came in the evenings throughout the year, when, with only a handful of exceptions, Jim and Ruth would spend time together in the kitchen preparing the evening meal before the family sat down together for supper. As with just about everything else in Jim’s life, these meals were adventures, often inspired by their time in France, and experimenting with flavors and themes, ranging from Mediterranean mussels to stuffed cabbage loosely based off of Grandma Haug’s recipe to Algerian couscous. Only on holidays would the menu be predictable—on those occasions, snails would be served in shells, smothered with butter, with fresh baguettes, before the main course of traditional turkey and salads and sides.
Jim had a wonderful life, but, as life is prone to do, it also presented Jim with many challenges, including a period of illness and alcohol addiction during which he lost his way and developed some serious long term medical complications. He had an amazing loyal, loving partner and best friend in Ruth. She stayed by his side, as a constant source of encouragement and strength. He made it out and made it back, but not without suffering short term and long-term impacts.
Jim is remembered fondly by those that knew him as having a tremendous love of life, and an unwavering sense of justice and fairness and decency, and an intellectual honesty that guided his views and outlook on life and the world. He was always learning, and always teaching. The lessons he taught and passed on to his children and grandchildren, each of whom he loved passionately and viewed with tremendous pride, will ensure that his legacy and memory lives on.
Jim was preceded in death by his father, Philip, and his mother, Marie.
He is survived by his loving wife, Ruth, his three children, Stopher (Lauren), Marty (Rowan), and Jimmy (Emily), and his seven grandchildren, Nate, Sophie, Nolan, Liam, Caroline, Stella, and Luna, his sister, Judy, and many nephews, nieces, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law.
A memorial will be held at the Chapel of Memories on the campus of Mississippi State University on Monday, October 3, 2022, with a visitation at 10:00 a.m. followed by a celebration of life service at 11:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that gifts and donations be made to the CARE (Companion Animals Require Excellence) Fund at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine that provides support for improvements to veterinary medical teaching, research, and service within the Animal Health Center, by visiting: https://www.vetmed.msstate.edu/alumni- friends/opportunities-for-giving.
You can leave the family a condolence at: www.welchfuneralhomes.com.