Photography

Warren Glenn Hackney

December 22, 1924 ~ May 20, 2022 (age 97)

Obituary

After 60 years living in Fairbanks, the story of Warren Glenn Hackney is pretty much written in the hearts and minds of the entire community. Glenn was deeply involved in every aspect of Fairbanks community life - and Glenn loved people.

Glenn was born December 22, 1924 in Cazenovia, New York, the youngest of six brothers. His parents, Arthur and Beatrice, emigrated first to Canada, then moved to a farm in upstate New York just before Glenn was born, so he was the only one of the boys born in the U.S. Early life revolved around ‘keeping the cows happy’. A farm was not successful unless it had cows that got fed and milked on a very specific schedule. With five brothers sharing the chores, Glenn grew up with happy cows, which in turn sustained the family as the Great Depression unfolded and impacted America from 1929 until 1941.

As the likelihood of American participation in World War II loomed, Glenn was a senior in High School. Surrounded by a universal love of America there was an equally universal drive to be of service, and the High School allowed students to graduate early so they could enlist. Dad had his eyes on the Marines, which the next oldest brother, Howard, had joined. He had secured a thick rope across the inside of the family barn and would cross the barn hand-over-hand to further build his inherent farm-boy strength. However, in the biggest shock of his life, he was rejected first by the Marines, and then by the Army, for having an ‘enlarged heart’. Determined to serve, Glenn finally joined the Merchant Marines and served on Liberty ships delivering munitions in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of the war. This civilian non-branch of the military went on to suffer a higher casualty rate than the Marines, Army and Navy. 733 ships were sunk during the war.

When the war ended, Glenn resumed his original plan of entering Cornell University, which his final High School exams had qualified him for. It was here in the University kitchen’s dish room that he met Esther Louise Evans. They quickly became inseparable. While Glenn was the youngest of six brothers, Esther was the eldest of three sisters. There was one initial threat to their relationship, however - Esther loved to dance while Glenn had two left feet, and music never comported to movement in his body. The resolution of this dissonance came when Esther realized that the up-side of this was that, while many girls were interested in Glenn, this effectively kept him from their grasp and she quickly made the decision that his one ‘failing’ was actually a blessing in disguise.

Having the experience of leaving High School and traveling the globe during a world war made the transition to college difficult and Glenn and Esther decided to leave Cornell, get married, and start a life together. Their best friends were Glenn’s eldest brother Arthur and his wife Gladys, and the four decided, after hearing tales of the far north, that Alaska might be a land of opportunity. The two wives moved into an apartment together and Glenn and Arthur booked the cheapest route to Alaska - a bus trip across country and steerage on the last voyage of the steamship Alaska from Seattle to Seward. Glenn and his brother arrived in Anchorage on March 20, 1948 after a train ride from Seward through snow so deep they couldn’t see out the window. They had jobs in a matter of days. Esther and Gladys joined them in Alaska in June. The adventure had begun.

Alaska was indeed a land of opportunity for the Hackneys. Jobs, children - Glenn Alan in 1949 and Arthur James in 1951 - fishing, hunting, camping and finally building a dream home on a bluff at Rabbit Creek overlooking Cook Inlet with views of Mt Iliamna and Mt Redoubt. Then, in 1960, the Seward Highway, which had opened in 1951 was being expanded. Glenn and Esther’s dream home was designated as sitting on top of the newly expanded highway, and in 1962 they decided to move to Fairbanks, where Glenn was offered the job of General Manager of Concrete Products of Alaska.

Thus began a lifelong commitment to the Golden Heart of Alaska - 50 years for Esther until her passing in 2012 and 60 years for Glenn - with an 18-month hiatus when they relocated to Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii until returning in the aftermath of the great 1967 Chena River flood.

In 1969 they moved into a home at 1136 Sunset Drive, where they would both reside until their respective passings. Glenn’s passion for decades was his gigantic backyard garden and meticulously nurtured, and ever-expanding, raspberry patch and he also began a career in public service: City Purchasing Agent, Manager of the Office of Governor Keith Miller, State Representative for four years and State Senator for another four years. Throughout and thereafter, Glenn was also deeply involved in community life: First Presbyterian Church; starting a citywide spring clean-up; as a leader in the growing community of runners; as a member of the Library Foundation; on the Fairbanks symphony Board; as a longtime volunteer at the Fairbanks Food Bank, which continued right up until his death; and as an involved participant in countless other community activities.

In 1992, while picking up trash along Airport Road just blocks from home, a young man in a Chevrolet Camaro, who was engaged in a drag race, lost control and struck Glenn, throwing him 20-feet in the air and breaking both legs. In the hospital, Glenn had an exercise bar installed over his bed and had a stated goal of recouping to run in the Honolulu Marathon in six-months. He did exactly that. This, and his prominent role in the Fairbanks’ running community, led to his being chosen to run the Olympic Flame for a portion of its route into Olympia Washington in 1996 on its way to Atlanta - one of his proudest moments.

Glenn received many, many awards and accolades throughout his career, but he always felt that he was only doing what so many other Fairbanksans had done and were regularly doing. He truly loved the tremendous community spirit that exists in Fairbanks and delighted in doing his part.

Glenn’s passing was precipitated by a terrible accident at age 97 that left his body broken, but his positive spirit - and his faith - untouched. He was attended to in his final days and moments by his closest family, and to the end, when asked how he was doing, always responded with his classic “never better”. Glenn Hackney loved his wife Esther, his children and grandchildren, his community, his church and his country. Glenn will be dearly missed and long remembered.

Glenn told his family that he wanted no public memorial due to his concern of exposing his beloved church congregation to Covid exposure. The family will be holding a private remembrance at his request.

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