Former president of Illinois Education Association dies, fondly remembered

SPRINGFIELD – Bob Haisman, who served as president of the Illinois Education Association, from 1993 to 1999 and who was an ardent supporter of public education in Illinois, passed away at age 77 on Sat., Sept. 2 at his home.

Haisman spent his teaching career at Hinsdale South High School where he taught history and was a fervent member of the Hinsdale High School Teachers’ Association. He was raised in Berwyn and his mom introduced him to politics at a young age, bringing him on political errands, ringing doorbells and asking for support. His interest in and love of politics and fighting for people’s rights started then and lasted his entire life.

“Bob Haisman was a true believer. Throughout his career, he fought for the rights of others. He worked hard to be inclusive of others and to right the wrongs he saw,” said Al Llorens, current IEA president. “He understood the connection between those who make and pass laws and the effect they have on the classroom every day. Because of this, he never stopped knocking on doors and making phone calls, putting his fingerprints on so many people and policies that shaped public education in Illinois.”

He spent much of his career with HHSTA fighting for the rights of teachers and students, organizing spaghetti dinner fundraising for student activities and fought for better wages and working conditions for teachers and support personnel, including fighting for the passage of the Collective Bargaining Rights Act for education employees. He took a six-year leave of absence to serve as president of IEA.

“Bob assumed office when IEA was experiencing discord and distrust between and amongst stakeholders,” said Ken Swanson, IEA’s president from 2005 to 2011. “He united us and transformed us into a unified and energized advocate for members, students and public education. He was also an amazing mentor to up and coming leaders statewide, including this future president. If IEA has a Mount Rushmore, he belongs there.”

After leaving IEA, Haisman worked tirelessly to feed the hungry, support social justice initiatives, battle against poverty and to put an end to gun violence.

Haisman graduated from Morton Junior College and then Illinois State University, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree. For a full obituary, see the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest.

Services for Haisman will be on Sat., Oct. 7 (his birthday) at 2 p.m. at First United Church of Oak Park at Lake and Kenilworth Streets. It will also be livestreamed.

Memorials can be made to Beyond Hunger, the local food pantry near Bob’s home and where he worked for many years and served on the board, or First United Church of Oak Park. Both share the address of 848 Lake St., Oak Park, IL 60301 and both accept online donations.


At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.

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