Paul J. Haanstad

June 16, 1944 - May 2, 2019

Paul J. Haanstad passed away in his home on May 2, 2019 after a tenacious 20 year battle against prostate cancer. He was born in Oakes, ND on June 16, 1944, son of the late Rev. Engval Johan and Christine Brodahl Haanstad. He is survived by his daughters Elizabeth (Tim) and Katherine (Adam), and his grandkids Kirsten, Aidan, and Camilla. He is also survived by his siblings Morry (JoAnn), Dorcas, Martin (Evelyn), Jeanette (Allan), and Liz (Dick), and many nieces and nephews. Of course, he is most dearly missed by his wife of 52 years, Nancy Newcomb Haanstad.

Paul grew up in South San Francisco, CA, Canton, SD, and Webster, SD. His big Norwegian family was very close. He graduated from Webster High in 1962 where he excelled in academics, athletics, and his first love – classical music.

He loved his academic career. He graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD in 1966 with majors in German and philosophy. He received a Fulbright Scholarship to study philosophy in Germany at the University of Wurzberg in 1966-1967. He completed his PhD in philosophy under Dallas Willard at the University of Southern California. In 1971 he was hired by the University of Utah for his expertise in Husserl and phenomenology. He taught in the Philosophy Department there for 37 years alongside life-long friends.

He was a prodigious athlete. Paul excelled at running, biking, tennis, golf, and squash. But his primary joy came from playing handball. He was President of the Utah Handball Association in the 80’s. Otherwise, his favorite thing was a long run up all the hills at Sugarhouse Park, or powering a bike up a mountain at high noon in July.

But it wasn’t just academics and athletics. Paul was a true Renaissance man. He was an amazing handyman. He built and installed cupboards, bookshelves, desks – anything we needed. He canned apricot butter made from the giant apricot tree behind the garage. He was possibly the world’s best housepainter. He co-owned a garbage company for a short time. His collection of science fiction books could fill a library. He could fix a car or rewire a room or play the piano.
Paul was a fantastic dad and a devoted grandpa. This is where his greatest gifts shone. He was kind, interested, creative, and funny. He sang silly songs, recited nursery rhymes, and had a repertoire of funny voices that never got old. He taught the importance and fun of science, and helped us all work through any hurt feelings or upset. He loved to do puzzles, read books, and go on walks with his grandkids. There were countless soccer games, hockey games, volleyball games, and recitals.

Grandpa was a terrific babysitter. 4-year-old Camilla especially remembers playing hide-and-seek with grandpa. 14-year-old Aidan really loved their choreographed high fives. 17-year-old Kirsten’s favorite memory is of singing “Country Roads” with him.

Paul’s family is so grateful to the many medical professionals who helped us keep Paul around for so long, especially Dr. Scott Samuelson and PA Bruce Bolonesi. And a special thanks to Quality Hospice for easing his passing. RN Becky Johnson and CNA Alexis Hilkey took very good care of all of us.

A Celebration of Paul’s Life will be held on Thursday May 16, 2019 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East in Salt Lake City. Guests are encouraged to use the complimentary valet parking provided on the north side of the building.