Hahn embarks on family history

Helena Rodriguez

Henry Hahn is a retired professor of psychology at Eastern New Mexico University. He spent many years doing considerable volunteer work with several public schools and doing consultantcies and pro bono work with lawyers as a vocational expert. Currently, he is writing his family history for his grandchildren.

Name: Henry Hahn
Occupation: Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Eastern New Mexico University
Age: 80
Hometown: Portales
Family: Wife, Peggy (married for 43 years); Richard and daughter-in-law, Nicole; and three grandchildren, Ethan, 7, Dalton, 6, and Abigail, 2.

What do you think of Portales?
“I love it. I had job offers from the Civil Services in Norfolk, Va., Southeast Missouri State, the University of Little Rock, the University of North Dakota and Texas Tech University. They were very tempting, but I could never bring myself to leave Portales.”

What do you visualize your life being like in 10 years?
“At age 80, I just hope to be here in 10 years. I had bypass surgery in August. My cardiac surgeon said he hoped to give me five more years, but he thought anyone ornery and stubborn as I was probably had at least 10 more years.”

Tell us about your parents.
“My mother was a phenomenal cook. She taught her children English from early childhood. Her hobby was politics. I remember Senator Dennis Chavez drinking coffee at our kitchen table. My father had near-perfect memory. He could recite a date and any events from any time in his life. He knew his family history. He could tell about his ancestors back to Pipe Major Christian Hahn of the Pennsylvania Continental Line in the Revolution. He had an almost unbelievable empathy and control over animals. They would follow him around and obey his commands.”

Who is your hero and why?
“As a young boy, I knew my great great-grandfather, a confederate veteran, Captain John E. Clifton of the Second Kentucky Cavalry. When he was in his 90s and I was five and six, we struck up a fast friendship. He was a magnificent old man, and has always been my hero.”

What is you greatest hope?
“To live to a very ripe old age and to be loved by my children and grandchildren.”

If money were no object, what would you do to make the world a better place?
“I would set up a fund for needy children to answer their needs and to set up a scholarship and send as many students as possible through college. I am contributing to a scholarship for my grandchildren.”

Tell us about your greatest individual accomplishment.
“Marrying my wife and adopting my son.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult?
“I thought I would be a Naval officer.”

If I could do anything, I would …
“Help as many children as I could have a happy childhood.”

Tell us about a happy time.
“I had a happy childhood and cherish many childhood memories. For example, I used to sit on the ground at the end of the bench for ENMU’s first football team. I was there when they decided our Greyhound team mascot and chose green and silver as colors.”

What’s your favorite TV show, past and present?
“I have none. I watch TV out of boredom, but I’d rather read.”

What’s your favorite smell?
“It’s a tie between fresh coffee and the smell of carnations and pinks.”

What would you like printed on your gravestone?
“Class dismissed! The teacher has gone home!”

What’s your theme song?
“It would be hard to chose among ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ ‘The Londonderry Air’ and the ‘Auld Lang Syne.’

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
“A balmy spring day visiting with my brothers, my kids and my relatives.”

What did you like about your job?
“Teaching young minds and interacting with young people.”

Tell us how you met your spouse.
“She lived in Houston. Her brother, who was a friend, was passing through town. He called me to come down to the Portales Drug for coffee and his pretty sister was with him.”

Tell us about a time you were nervous.
“Three admirals, some other brass and a civilian walked into my office in the Navy without warning. I snapped to rigid attention. The civilian said, ‘Sit down young man, I want to talk to you!’ I said, ‘I can’t sir, there are flag officers present.’ He said, ‘That’s all right. I’m Secretary of the Navy.’”

Tell us something interesting about your family history.
“My great-grandfather, Henry H. Hahn was a frontiersman, Indian scout and auxiliary Texas Ranger. He was adopted by the Delawarean Comanche Indians and given the name Black Bear. He had many accomplishments, including being a member of the committee of five who picked the site of Fort Worth.”

What advice would you give others wanting to write their family history?
“Begin by finding out as much as you can from your parents, grandparents and other relatives.”