ROBERT N. "BOB"
Of Fernandina Beach, FL (formerly of Upper St. Clair, PA), died on January 26, 2014, after an extraordinary life. A Christmas baby, Mr. Hackett was born on December 25, 1933, and raised in Lampeter, PA. He was educated at the Hill School and Duke University. Following graduation, he served his country as a lieutenant in the United States Navy, where he served as a gunnery officer on a destroyer. After marrying his sweetheart, Joan Davis, in 1958, the couple moved to Pittsburgh, where Mr. Hackett became a certified gemologist and worked in his uncle's jewelry business. While working and raising a young family of two daughters, Nancy and Mary, Mr. Hackett attended Duquesne University School of Law as a night student, graduating first in his class in 1969. As a lawyer, Mr. Hackett practiced at several prominent Pittsburgh law firms before starting his own firm in 1985, becoming a noted real estate and lending expert. He served as Solicitor of Upper St. Clair for over 20 years, where he helped to develop and implement many innovative local government programs. He was also counsel to the Southwestern PA Regional Planning Commission, where he assisted in developing and implementing a township zoning ordinance that preserved "green space" for current and future residents of many local communities. In the era before appellate "specialists," Mr. Hackett successfully argued cases before the United States and Pennsylvania Supreme Courts. His reputation for zealously representing his clients earned him the nickname "Bulldog Bob," while he practiced under the motto passed down from his mentor, Judge David Craig, that a lawyer is "for hire, not for sale." An avid golfer throughout his life with many club and local tournament championships to his credit, Mr. Hackett was proud to have shot a lower score than Arnold Palmer in leading the Duke golf team to the ACC championship in 1954. With his wife and family, he pursued an active and busy life outside of his law practice, ranging from weekends spent camping and skiing at Hidden Valley Ski Resort near Somerset, to hikes through the Laurel Highlands and the Swiss Alps, to vigorous walks along the beach at Amelia Island. Mr. Hackett and his wife restored Boyce House in Upper St. Clair, filling it with the antiques they had collected over years of passionate searching. A lawyer's stand-up desk dating from the 1880s that he found is on display in the Federal Courthouse in Pittsburgh. Mr. Hackett was blessed with a "green thumb," cultivating beautiful gardens at his homes in Upper St. Clair and Fernandina Beach. He was particularly proud of the varieties of camilias that he grew at his house in Florida, making gifts of the blossoms for friends and family. A deeply religious man, Mr. Hackett was active at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair, serving as an elder for many years, and at St. George Episcopal Church on Ft. George Island near Jacksonville, where he was a regular participant in Bible studies and other activities. Mr. Hackett was active in many local charitable and social organizations throughout his life, including the Rotary Club in Upper St. Clair. Mr. Hackett was proud to be a "fiscal conservative but social liberal." He was a student of history and politics throughout his life, and loved to explain to his grandchildren everything from the history of religion to Obamacare to the financial crisis of 2008. One of his grandchildren said that he helped her understand "the meaning of life." In addition to his wife, Joan; and daughters, Nancy (Richard) and Mary (Arlie), Mr. Hackett is survived by two brothers, Burtis and Thomas (Joyce); four grandchildren; several nieces and a nephew. A Memorial Service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at St. George Episcopal Church. Memorial donations may be made to St. George Episcopal Church, 10560 Ft. George Road, Jacksonville, FL 32226 or a charity of the person's choice. To sign Mr. Hackett's online register book, please visit the Green Pine website at www.greenpinefuneral.com. Arrangements are being handled by GREEN PINE FUNERAL HOME, 96281 Green Pine Road, Yulee, FL 32097.
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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1, 2014