John H. Haske, 96, a retired Washington baker, died Saturday at his home in Arlington. He had been in failing health since suffering a stroke a month ago.
He had operated his own bakery with the help of his wife, Rose, in the Brookland section from 1920 to 1938. He then owned and operated a bakery in Front Royal, Va., before returning to Washington where he worked as a baker for 14 years at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing before retiring in 1956.
Mr. Haske became famous for his rum cupcakes while working as head baker in the bureau's cafeteria. He made the cakes in batches of 96 dozen at a time. According to a 1956 story in The Post, his rum cakes brought workers flocking from the Agriculture Department across the street and drew numerous requests for the recipe when it became known that he was retiring.
According to Mr. Haske, "You take 1 pint of water and bring it to a boil with 2 pounds of sugar, and add a couple of teaspoonsful of rum flavoring." Into this he dunked a yellow pound cake flecked with slivers of pecan.
His friends and coworkers gave Mr. Haske a party when he retired. They all autographed the rolling pin he had used for 38 years and prepared the things they prepared best. They baked him a couple of cakes.
Mr. Haske was born in Washington. He delivered The Washington Star and The Baltimore Sun in his youth. Among his stops were the War Department and the White House. William McKinley was president of the United States at the time.
At the turn of the century he helped operate a concession stand at Chevy Chase Lake when the Marine band played there. Among his customers was the director of the band, John Philip Sousa.
Following his retirement, Mr. Haske volunteered as a baker at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School in Vienna.
He was a member of St. Thomas More Catholic Cathedral in Arlington.
In addition to his wife of more than 64 years, Rose, of the home, he is survived by a son, John H. Jr., of Purcellville, Va.; two daughters, Antoinette Spicer, of Alexandria, and Sister Mary Stella, CSC, of St. Bernard's Convent in Riverdale; 16 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.