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Release Date: 
Monday, May 25, 2020

Remembering Bill Hackett

Two photos of William Hackett
Bill Hackett, left, on graduation day, holding the College Mace. Right, Bill Hackett served students, and his community, for generations.

William H. (Bill) Hackett died on May 22, 2020, from complications of COVID-19, at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn. An obituary chronicles more about his life here.

Bill Hackett was a fixture for many years at HFC, teaching history to generations of students. He started his career at Edison Junior High, Edsel Ford High School, and then came to Henry Ford Community College, from which he retired after 42 years of teaching.

“While I did not have the benefit of knowing Bill Hackett well, he was undoubtedly a beloved teacher and colleague," said HFC President Russ Kavalhuna. "He dedicated his professional skills to making others better through education. In that, his life is a testament to what our College is—a path to success through learning. The entire College sends its warmth and thoughts to his daughters and wife. His, was clearly a life well lived.”

Bill Hackett's family has established a scholarship fund in his name at HFC. His daughter, Susan Hackett, said, "We want to direct people’s attention to supporting what meant more to him than anything … students. If you knew him, you know who he was and what he stood for. He’ll want to help those who love life-long learning and who value the power of education." If you wish to contribute to the fund, go to the HFC giving website, select "other," and note that you wish to contribute to the William Hackett Scholarship Fund.

Bill Hackett touched countless lives at the College. Remembrances shared by colleagues and friends are below.

A remembrance from John McDonald:

With a profound sadness and sense of loss, I wish to inform the College community of the passing of Bill Hackett.

Bill was far more than a colleague for over 30 years at HFC. He was an institution at the College and in the community. He was also my teacher, mentor, and dear friend for some 55 years.

I first met Bill as a student in 1964. He was a phenomenal teacher, who made history come alive for generations of students. He was a brilliant historian and community activist. He was a stalwart in the Dearborn political scene, the Dearborn Historical Association, and the First United Methodist Church of Dearborn.

An important part of his American History class was to take students to various churches and neighborhoods throughout the city of Detroit.

Bill’s wife of 65 years, Pat, was Dearborn’s Senior Citizen Director throughout many years of Bill’s life at the College. Pat told me the other day that in 65 years, she and Bill never went to bed angry; she said that she would not have changed a thing, that she felt so very fortunate to share her life with Bill.

Not only myself but my children benefitted from Bill’s courses, knowledge, and friendship. I have always maintained that the finest tribute a colleague can pay a colleague is to have his or her children enroll in a fellow faculty member’s course.

Bill was also a founding member and officer of Local 1650. He helped found this Union at a period when doing such put one’s career and livelihood at stake. He would tell me of meetings with hostile community audiences, particularly during the Federation’s first two strike actions.

As a young faculty member, I, as did many others, learned a great deal about professionalism, union solidarity, and strength of character from the best of teachers and dearest of friends.

John McDonald
President, Local 1650

A remembrance from Diane Green:

My heart is so saddened to read of Bill Hackett's passing. Bill Hackett welcomed me to Henry Ford Community College in 1967 in the warm and caring way that epitomized the kind of person he was. He was an amazing role model and mentor to me. I had to good fortune to work with Bill for a number of years when he coordinated the Honors Program as well as seeing him as a leader in 1650. I was always thrilled to run into Bill and Paul Winslow in and about Detroit as we all shared a common love for certain ones of the City's restaurants. Bill was loved by students who took his classes, and was deeply respected by his peers. He will be missed but fondly remembered.

My deepest sympathy goes out to Pat and the Hackett family.

Diane Green

A remembrance from Alan Amen

My sincere condolences to the Hackett family. May I also presume on behalf of the entire College and greater Dearborn communities I once represented to offer prayers and condolences in thankful remembrance of a man whose social as well as academic leadership followed a moral compass that never wavered from the true direction of justice and compassion. His life was proof by example to me and certainly innumerable others of how, and why, one should never let the allure of political victory nor the desire for personal gain influence us in a way so as to allow us to stray from that path.

Bill stands tall among the Henry Ford greats. May God Bless his soul and grant him, InSha'Allah, eternal peace and comfort.

Alan Amen
Former College trustee

Anyone who wishes to share a memory of Bill Hackett's life is invited to send a remembrance to, and we will include it here.