Jay Haskins: 1934–2022
Port Townsend, Washington
August 14, 1934 – July 23, 2022
Jay Haskins was born in 1934 and started writing haiku in 2006. He had been in the Port Townsend haiku group since 2006, and said that he was constantly learning from the other members and the books they recommended. Jay passed away in the summer of 2022, at the age of 87.
the morning crossword
everything in motion
but the moon
pelt the fishpond
a shiver of stars
the fly and I
both on page forty
of the lighthouse beacon
Lowell Jay Haskins
August 14, 1934 – July 23, 2022
Lowell Jay Haskins was born in Indiana on Aug. 14, 1934, into a military family. His father, George W. Haskins, was an early pilot who taught aeronautical engineering at Purdue University where he wooed fellow professor, Inez, by landing his biplane in her family’s back 40. After they married and war was brewing in Europe, the family relocated to Washington, D.C. where his dad was involved in getting the new Army Air Force off the ground. A lot of travel was required for that, so at times the family moved to different locations around the country. Wherever they happened to land, Inez kept the home fires burning for Jay and his older brother. They all finally retired to Santa Monica, California where the boys finished growing up. Brother Bill also became a pilot for the Air Force, then for United Airlines.
Jay might have followed in the family business, too, but for an unfortunate bout of polio at age 11. He recovered to the point where he could do almost everything else, including boat building and sail making, which became some of his many occupations. At one point he and a friend formed a boat building business called Pacific Yachts near Marina del Rey in southern California. After a few years of racing boats and sailing the Pacific, he settled down with first wife Chris Westcott, and her toddler son, Declan.
It was Jay’s love of art that always took precedence, even though the painting had to come after work and on weekends. He attended Art Center School in Los Angeles, and the New School of Art, then went on to study independently with Lee Mullican. He was always mostly drawn to the more abstract side of art. Along with art he loved music, poetry, metaphysics, sailing, and designing boats. So, when he discovered and then moved to Port Townsend, Washington in 1979, he came to the right place.
He was one of the founding artists of the Northwind Arts Center in 2001. For the past 14 years or so he’s been an exhibit gallery manager and staff member and enjoyed being a part of the gallery’s growth. In 2006, with some friends, he helped found Corvidae Press, a printmaking guild in a studio located at Fort Worden. For more than 20 years he channeled his love for music into the Yesango marimba band. His paintings have been displayed around town at the library, the hospital, and various galleries, including Northwind. He was an avid reader and a traveler, delighting in times spent sailing and exploring the Bahamas with dear friends, especially Pat, Geo, and Dick. He also spent time in Australia, the Far East, and Nepal. His poetry has been published by Minotaur and The Heron’s Nest, an international haiku journal. He has for years participated in local haiku and renku writing groups.
He was a generous, loyal, and gifted friend with an inquisitive mind and a sense of humor, who got along with everybody. He touched many lives by bringing his quiet energy to bear onto his many interests.
He slipped away peacefully on July 23, 2022 at the age of 87 in Port Townsend after a short illness, leaving behind his son, Declan Westcott (wife Solenne Walker); also former second wife and best friend, Alessa Banta; and friends and colleagues who joined him in the many different aspects of his adventurous life, including other best friend, Teri Mielke. Jay and Teri liked to meet at what they called “The Office.”
Northwind Arts Center is planning an exhibit of Jay’s works from Jan. 13, 2023 until Feb. 26, 2023. Plans to honor his life will be announced at a later date but he will certainly be looking back in on us all, wishing to see marimbas being played, poetry groups meeting, and art shows being hung. He will hope that once in a while decaf mochas and rutinis will be raised to his memory.
Obituary from Port Townsend’s The Leader newspaper, posted September 7, 2022, lightly edited.