The Haire Family: Faith and Tailgating

by Julia Kelb | Feb 26, 2021

Haire FamilyDavid Haire ’71 was president of his freshman class at Marian College, and he must have liked it. Fast-forward 50-plus years, and he’s still got a seat at the table as a member of Marian University’s Board of Trustees since 2000.

David first proved his flair for leadership with memorable campus events—like a Monte Carlo night, complete with equipment he had shipped from actual Las Vegas casinos. Later, he took on more serious issues—like a takeover of the chapel for a 77-hour bread and water fast in protest of an administrative decision.

He liked to go big and he liked to start things.

He definitely started something big the day he helped coed, Anne Marty, carry her luggage up the stairs into Clare Hall. Married in 1970, David and Anne made sure their six children and 14 grandchildren inherited their strong Catholic faith, intense love for Marian, and, after 2008, obsession with tailgating.

When President Daniel J. Elsener wanted to evaluate the feasibility of bringing football to Marian, he knew exactly where to start. David chaired the task force, got the votes, and began throwing together tailgate parties of epic proportion. The rest is history.

David can’t take credit for Marian’s winning record, but he can boast a special connection to the current team manager, his granddaughter, Abby Waning ’24, who, according to head football coach Mark Henninger, is the team’s most valuable recruit. 

The rest of the Marian Knights in the Haire family include Jordan Haire ’09, Greg ’94 and Jen Haire ’94 Waning, and Gretchen Waning ’24, twin sister to Abby. Each says Marian pushes them to a higher standard.

“Marian professors know you well enough to make sure you reach your full potential. That’s how I ended up with a double major in biology and chemistry,” said Greg, a consumer goods scientist at Procter & Gamble, who met Jen in honors psychology freshman year.

Greg and Jen eventually became college sweethearts, marrying right after graduation in Marian’s Bishop Chartrand Memorial Chapel. Jen, a sociology major, worked in financial services before landing back at Marian University as the regional admissions counselor in 2014. Since then, out-of-state enrollment has increased from five to 20 percent. Jen was also impactful while still a student—speaking at commencement and, even more impressive, winning Mock Rock, the campus lip-sync competition.

Meanwhile, Jen’s sister, Jordan, took a different path. After time at Clemson University in South Carolina and the University of Dayton in Ohio, she joined Americorps, serving with the Girl Scouts in Fairbanks, Alaska. Jordan chose to finish her psychology degree at Marian—just in time for the inaugural football season and supported student-athletes as a study table tutor. She rarely missed a family tailgate, even while in graduate school in Kentucky.

“The personalized attention at Marian helped me try things I might not have. Today, Marian’s core Franciscan sponsorship values still guide my approach to being present with people in their pain,” said Jordan, who is a licensed mental health counselor at her own private practice and resides with her husband, Adam Lovik, a tribal police officer, in Sequim, Washington.

No matter where the Haire family members are, their shared Marian experiences and values help keep them connected and grounded. In retirement, David travels at whim in his cozy recreational vehicle but continues to be generous to his alma mater through time, talent, and treasure. While legendary for his tailgating talents, David also leads Marian’s Mission and Identity Committee.

“We need to stay true to the identity that has helped us grow in enrollment and in dollars raised. The recently renovated St. Francis Colonnade, the new St. Francis Bell Tower, and The Saint John’s Bible are all examples of us literally advertising that we are Catholic and Franciscan,” said David, who is thankful that Abby and Gretchen are continuing to grow their faith through the San Damiano Scholars for Church Leadership Program.

It’s no surprise that Abby and Gretchen feel at home at Marian. “Sr. Norma Rocklage, OSF, Ph.D. ’60 was praying for them before they were even born,” Jen said.

Next year, when the new Caito-Wagner Hall is completed, Abby and Gretchen will also be reminded of their grandmother, Anne Marty Haire, every time they walk by the new M. Anne Haire Memorial Prayer Garden. “She loved this place so much. I think it’s awesome to have mom’s presence right in the heart of campus,” Jen said.

In the Fall of 2018, David and Anne were honored with the Dillon Family Distinguished Alumni Award, their love for Marian—and for each other—evident in the award tribute video at Marian’s annual gala. Anne passed away a year later. But the garden in her name will inspire prayers for years to come.

“We’ve stayed connected and involved with Marian even when we lived far away, but the effort has been worth the impact on my family and strengthened our bond across generations,” said David.

Through their service, faithfulness, and awesome tailgate parties, this legacy family’s impact on Marian is one to celebrate (parking lot optional).