Nov. 3—Correction appended
It was hard not to see John "Jack" Hasted coming your way, or to mistake his voice for someone else's. It was a voice that commanded attention and gave off a sense of regal authority — not unlike the actor Sean Connery's, some say. And his 6-foot-plus frame drew attention to a man who loved nothing more than to teach and talk writing.
Plus, he walked with a particular gait that suggested he was a man of character, his wife, Judith Brito Hasted said — but that was really because of an injury suffered after he fell through a roof while fighting a fire years ago.
John Hasted, who spent over 40 years teaching English, creative writing and other humanities courses at the College of Santa Fe, died in a Santa Fe hospital of natural causes Oct. 20 — about a month shy of his 84th birthday.
He also served in various capacities, including as captain, in the Turquoise Trail Volunteer Fire District from the late 1960s into the mid-1980s.
He was one of the first responders to arrive at the Penitentiary of New Mexico during the deadly February 1980 prison riot.
Hasted moved to Santa Fe in the late 1960s to take a job with Santa Fe Public Schools and later taught at the College of Santa Fe, his wife said.
He fell in love with everything about the region, she said, and also fell in love with teaching everything he learned about it to others.
"Jack had a real affection for everything Southwest," Brito Hasted said. "He knew the culture, he knew the religions, and he had a minor in Spanish" in college.
"Everything Southwest, everything Northern New Mexico was like a magnet to him."
John Hasted was born Nov. 19, 1938, in Oil City, Pa., a community known for its oil and gas industry. His parents divorced when he was very young and his mother, who worked in a department store, raised him, Brito Hasted said.
She said he grew up in an environment where he could hike, hunt and fish, all activities he continued to enjoy when he moved to New Mexico in 1967.
He earned degrees in English and the humanities at both the University of Notre Dame and DePaul University. Brito Hasted said he saw an ad for a curriculum position at Santa Fe Public Schools and he applied for, and got, the job.
Within a year, he was teaching at the College of Santa Fe, located at the site now known as the midtown campus. At that time, it was a liberal arts college, though it would eventually transition into more of an arts school.
Brito Hasted, who was a teacher at St. Michael's High School, and John met in the mid-1980s. By that time his career with the volunteer fire department was winding down.
But she was aware of his role as a responder in the bloody 1980 prison riot, which took the lives of 33 men and shocked state and local leaders as inmates took over the prison in a roughly 36-hour bout of brutality that left much of the prison in smoke.
John Hasted and the Turquoise Trail volunteer fire crew were among the first to arrive at that site in the early hours of the riot.
According to a 1980 report on the prison riot compiled by then-state Attorney General Jeff Bingaman, those volunteers waited outside the gate of the prison for about an hour "as law enforcement units began arriving on the scene.
Because the volunteer unit had responded with its entire complement of vehicles, the Santa Fe Fire Department was called to send one of its pumper trucks to allow Turquoise Trail to return one of its vehicles to stand-by duty in the volunteer department's district."
John Hasted never talked with his wife about the experience or what he saw during the riot.
"No one who really experienced that sort of event every really talks about what they saw," she said. "It was just too horrific."
Turquoise Trail Volunteer Fire Department District Chief Daniel Coyne, who knew Hasted, said the fact Hasted remained "essentially silent about that all those years spoke volumes to the impact it had. It's still rated as one of the worst penitentiary riots in the United States."
Coyne said many of the dead on that scene were "dismembered or burned or killed in the most merciless of ways, and to be leading the first EMS team into that unit — I cannot image the kind of horror he carried with him over the years."
Brito Hasted said her husband was not happy when the College of Santa Fe closed in 2009, though it reopened a year later as the private Santa Fe University of Art and Design and lasted until 2018.
She said her husband took the college's closing "as a personal loss."
"He had devoted his life to the College of Santa Fe," she said.
Despite his potentially intimidating presence, John Hasted had a silly sense of humor and a fondness for Mel Brooks comedies, she said — with the horror spoof Young Frankenstein being among his favorite films.
John Hasted is survived by four children and four stepchildren, as well as 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Brito Hasted said her husband, a devout Catholic, will be commemorated with a funeral service at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at Santa Maria de la Paz Catholic Community Church on College Avenue.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Judy Brito Hasted worked as a teacher at the College of Santa Fe. In fact, she taught at St. Michael's High School.