Hannah Hackney, a founding member of the Manchester Area Conference of Churches, died on July 17. She was 96.
Hackney was born in Somers in 1917 to Frank and Anna Malinski. She attended local schools and moved to Manchester in 1972. She moved to South Windsor in 2013.
Marsha Mullen, whose husband Rev. Dave Mullen is pastor at Church of the Living God, became close friends with Hackney nearly 30 years ago when she joined their church.
Mullen created a tribute board for Hackney's services and the words she pasted on it were said to describe Hackney the best.
The board of pictures was covered with the words fun, classy, sassy, adventurous, vivacious, fearless, feisty, a lover of God, passionate and full of life.
Hackney was among members of 14 area churches who founded the Manchester Area Conference of Churches in 1974.
MACC is now a network of 35 different churches in Manchester, Bolton, South Windsor, Storrs and Glastonbury. With its food pantry, soup kitchen, homeless shelter and other services, MACC has become a predominant nonprofit service provider in the area.
"She said, 'I was on that board, I fought for that,'" Mullen said. "She loved to meet people's needs. She always wanted to make sure people were taken care of."
Hackney was an athlete, also. She started skiing along with her lifelong friend Patricia Sullivan when the men were away during World War II.
Hackney was a back-to-back downhill skiing champion in Connecticut in 1947 and 1948. Hackney won the women's downhill competition at Mad River Glen in Vermont in 1947 and '48.
"When she was starting to hobble around with a walker, she said 'Can you believe it, I used to downhill ski, and not only that, I was a champion two years running,'" Mullen said. "They would go skiing every weekend."
The classy and sassy part of Hackney came through in her modeling days. She worked for Hamilton Standard for 25 years and was the model for different advertisements the company used for brochures or to promote events.
In one picture Mullen used for Hackney's tribute board, Hackney is dressed as a dancer to promote a mother and daughter event the company was holding. It's a photo Mullen says perfectly depicts her feisty friend.
"She wasn't a sweet little old lady," Mullen said. "She was full of life and spunky."
Even into her 90s, Mullen said that Hackney was full of life. She could often be found in her trademark pose, with her arms held above her shoulders in a moment of exclamation.
"Praise the Lord," she might be saying, Mullen said.
"She celebrated life until the very end," Mullen said. "Every day is a party for us and we got that from Hannah. She always wanted the best. No matter what it was, she wanted the best of everything."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun