Thomas Martine Hasler, a longtime resident of Bolton Hill and a survivor of the Holocaust, died on Nov. 30 at University of Maryland Medical Center from complications following a stroke three weeks earlier. He had just turned 82.
A native of what is now the Czech Republic, for 16 years he was a reporter for the old Evening Sun. In recent years he helped produce a TV documentary in that country and was working to make a feature film in English about the father he never knew.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. at Memorial Episcopal Church’s Farnham Hall, which faces Lafayette Ave. In lieu of flowers the organizers suggest contributions to the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library (www.ncsml.org) based in Cedar Rapids, IA.
Tom Hasler was a member of BHCA’s board. He was born in Prague Nov. 16, 1941, during the Nazi occupation and annexation by Hitler of the Sudetenland, which the Germans folded into what was called the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Hasler’s father, Karel Hašler, was a popular Czech songwriter, actor, director, and playwright who, before his son’s birth, was arrested by the Gestapo because of the patriotic nature of his songs. Karel Hašler was killed at Mauthausen concentration camp one month after Tom was born, a non-Jewish victim of the Holocaust.
His mother, Charlotte Jurdová, was a linguist with a doctorate from Charles University in Prague. According to a history posted by The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, his mother was able to secure exit visas in 1949 when the department she worked for at the Dutch embassy came under scrutiny after her supervisor was named as a spy. Tom and his mother moved to Australia, where he learned English with an Aussie accent while attending North Sydney high school.
In 1958, Tom and his mother were sponsored by an acquaintance to come to America. They arrived in Santa Barbara, CA, then moved to Connecticut. Tom began college at age 16, studying political science at Hobart College in Geneva, NY. He studied European history and journalism at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, then moved to Lebanon for an international internship at The Daily Star, an English-language newspaper in Beirut.
It was there he met and married Hallie Sether, better known as Bonnie, a New Yorker who was pursuing an MA in Middle East Studies at the American University of Beirut. They had no children. When they returned to the U.S., Hasler took a job with The Evening Sun, where he worked for 16 years covering government and city affairs. He gained U.S. citizenship in 1975. The couple bought a house in Bolton Hill in the 1990s and he lived there with a cat named Bud until his death.
He co-founded a company, Press Net, that developed a network of correspondents in key states and state capitals to provide pre-Internet daily electronic summaries of news articles and political activities for organizations involved in public affairs. More recently he invested in several enterprises and called himself a social entrepreneur.
Hasler made several trips to Prague to learn more about his father and to support the production of a documentary about him, The Immortal Balladeer of Prague, which has been broadcast on Czech television. On returning to Baltimore, he wrote a script for a screenplay that he hoped to produce about his father, titled The Balladeer of Liberty.
He was a member of the Bolton Hill Swim and Tennis Club and for years was an avid tennis player. He was a frequent participant in First Friday happy hours held in Rutter’s Mill Park, a tradition founded by members of Memorial Episcopal Church decades ago.
He had a close friendship with a woman who lives in Havre de Grace, Christina Moore. Hasler also is survived by two cousins in Germany and another in London.