Donald Haack, 78, founder and owner of Donald Haack Diamonds & Fine Gems, in Charlotte, N.C., died March 1 after a brief illness, the Charlotte Observer reports. He was a respected businessman and, with his wife of 54 years, Janet, among the city’s most respected philanthropists.
An accomplished author, he wrote three books about his adventures in the diamond business: Bush-Pilot in Diamond Country, Diamond Safari, and his most recent, Diamonds ‘neath My Wings.
Haack, a diamond broker, has been referred to as the “Indiana Jones of the diamond industry,” according to a brief biography for Diamonds ‘neath My Wings. He has diamond experience as a miner, trader, and broker on the national and international level.
Haack was born and raised in Milwaukee and West Bend, Wisc. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a major in Economics and Finance after which he served in the U.S. Marines at Cherry Point, N.C., his first exposure to North Carolina and Charlotte.
He spent 20 years abroad as manager and consultant of diamond mining companies in British Guiana and Venezuela, a licensed buyer of rough diamonds, and as a pilot with more than 5,000 hours of bush flying. He organized and operated “Guyana Wings,” an air charter service to remote diamond mining areas of South America. In the 70’s, he designed, built, and operated ocean-going excursion boats in Grenada and St. Martin and maintained international gem connections in Europe where he had one of the biggest sales to a royal family.
After two revolutions in third world countries, Don, his wife and four children returned to the U.S. in 1981 where they opened, Donald Haack Diamonds.
He served as president of the World Trade Association, past chairman of the Better Business Bureau Board of Directors and chairman and president of the Foreign Trade Zone. He has served as chairman of the Rotary Foundation, is on the Charlotte Symphony Board of Directors, and is a member of Metrolina Business Council, Chamber of Commerce, NC Wine and Grape Growers Assoc., and NC Writer’s Network.
In addition to his wife, Janet; Haack is survived by daughters Diana Haack Smith and Julie Haack, both of Charlotte; and sons Thomas Scott Haack of Charlotte, and Todd Lawrence Haack of San Rafael, Calif.
A memorial service will be held Thursday at Carmel Baptist Church.