Claudia and Robert Hauberg

Claudia and Robert Hauberg don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

The Fondren couple will be honored this week at Fondren Renaissance’s sixteenth annual Symphony at Sunset and say maybe it’s just good timing.

“We’re humbled,” Claudia says, sitting in the old school house room at The Cedars, at once a part of her husband’s family property. “When Jim (Wilkirson) told us (of the honor), I immediately thought, ‘Hmm; maybe it’s because it’s The Cedars 175th anniversary. I mean, we are involved, but we’ve never really been the top dogs at everything.”

Maybe the couple needs a review of their own accomplishments to refresh their memories of all the good they have done in Jackson and beyond.

Claudia, born in Meridian, Mississippi, is a Millsaps College graduate. The mother of two sons, Patrick and Michael, she tells, “I didn’t have a career. I just worked.” That vocation of service to others involves multiple offices, positions and honors with The Junior League of Jackson, the Millsaps Arts & Lecture Series, the Jackson Symphony League, Goodwill Industries, the Jackson Friends of the Library, the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi and Fondren Renaissance Foundation.

Robert, born in Jackson, is an Ole Miss and Yale graduate, a father to Greta and a shareholder and litigator with Baker Donelson in their Jackson and Washington, D.C. offices. He practices in antitrust, securities, False Claims Act and RICO litigation and white collar crime, among other specialties. His professional resume of associations, publications, admissions and honors is a hefty read. His civic resume is equally impressive with nearly a dozen years on the Mississippi Symphony and Museum of Art boards, service to the Mississippi Humanities Council and Mississippi Opera and as a Sunday School teacher at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral.

The pair says they serve because they don’t know life any other way. “It’s in in my gene pool,” Claudia says of her “drive to have some purpose.” “I’ve always felt responsibility and always volunteered even in my younger days. I can’t just sit home and twiddle my thumbs.”

It’s the same for Robert, whose father, Robert Sr., was in the first graduating class of the Jackson School of Law, served in the city attorney’s office and as a state senator. He became assistant U.S. Attorney, then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, and served under five presidents, Democrat and Republican, from Eisenhower to Carter. He even managed to make time to teach at his alma mater. “It was a good example of what a professional life looked like, and I have adopted that,” Robert adds.

On Life Together

The Haubergs met in 1992 at a Christmas day luncheon in Belhaven. Claudia says she had been divorced for five years and her children were with their grandmother when she got the invitation: “bring your mother and Tomato Aspic for 24.” And there was Robert. “I was sitting in the library when he came over and started talking,” she remembers. “He knelt down and I asked, ‘What do you like?’ He responded, ‘Opera and baseball.’ I didn’t know much about opera but, I said, ‘You are in one of two catcher’s stances right now!’ The next week, he asked me to see a movie (The Prince of Tides) and, two years later, we married.” That was 1994.

After their children had left for college, the Haubergs wanted a one story home, and “the stars aligned,” allowing them to purchase the Henry Hederman (Hederman Brothers, The Clarion Ledger) home on Old Canton Road, a rambling four bed/four bath with an added perk: its location was on land once owned by Robert’s family, The Garlands (read more about that history here).

With a second home in Alexandria, Virginia, the Haubergs spend time back and forth for Robert’s work (and Nats and Orioles baseball and family Thanksgiving gatherings). But “home” is here, in Fondren. “Even though we are just a flight away (in Virginia), we are a half a day’s drive of our children here,” Robert explains. “At some point in life, whatever your professional or community situation is, you want to be close to family.”

It’s the same for Claudia who adds that the feel of community is a strong pull. “When I hear young people want to move from out-of-town here, they want to live in Fondren. It’s hip, convenient, diverse, and not cookie cutter. That appeals to us. We’re five minutes from everything. That’s the charm of it.”

On Thursday night, when the Haubergs stand amongst the crowd of 2,000 gathered under the canopy of cedar trees, on the very property of Robert’s great-great-grandfather William’s home, maybe it will hit them — the contributions they’ve made over a lifetime of giving have been immeasurable.

“We’re tickled to be honored,” Claudia remarks. “There are so many worthy people who have been honored and will be honored in the future and we’re happy to be in their company.”