Hackett, Frances L.
Nov. 29, 1929 - March 27, 2012
Frances L. Hackett, a longtime resident of Indianapolis, died Tuesday, March 27, at age 82 in Venice, Fla. She was spending the winter with her family in Venice when she passed away suddenly and without suffering.
Esteemed for her integrity, kindness, intelligence and keen wit, Frances left many legacies: She was co-founder and president of a successful book publishing company; the matriarch to a large and loving family; a mental health crisis-line counselor; a champion for racial harmony; and a stalwart friend.
Friends described her as one of the warmest, most generous and non-judgmental women they had ever known. One of Frances' favorite sayings was, "No one gets all the love they want, but if they get the love they need, they are blessed."
Frances Ruth Lurvey was born Nov. 29, 1929, at Methodist Hospital. She was the youngest of five children of David and Frances (Traugott) Lurvey. Her father was the owner of Hatfield Electric Company. Frances was preceded in death by her sister, Rosalie L. Rothbard and two brothers, Leonard and Jerome. She is survived by her brother, William L. Lurvey of Indianapolis.
Frances attended Tudor Hall and Shortridge High School. At Goucher College in Baltimore, where she matriculated in 1947, she received a degree in history. She married Sam Ross and they had two children, David and Jennifer.
Early in her career, she worked as a writer for a magazine in Miami, where she interviewed celebrities such as Rock Hudson and Joan Crawford. After her divorce from Ross, she returned to Indianapolis, becoming director of publicity for Bobbs Merrill Publishing Company's College Division, where she met her future husband, William H.Y. Hackett Jr. The couple married in 1969 and Hackett adopted Frances' two children.
In 1972, Bill and Frances founded Hackett Publishing Company in their home on Pennsylvania Street. The company grew to become one of the nation's leading publishers in the humanities, with offices today in Indianapolis and Cambridge, Mass. When Bill Hackett died in 1986, Frances moved to ensure the continuity of their company as an independent venture and shared with its growing staff in all of its core functions, remaining its president until the time of her death.
Frances, who knew the ordeals of depression, had a special compassion for those suffering such afflictions. For the past decade, she was a suicide-intervention counselor for Mental Health America of Greater Indianapolis. Frances was also a founding member of Dialogue Today, a coalition of Jewish and African-American women in Indianapolis that dealt with the twin problems of racism and anti-Semitism.
Survivors include her daughter Jennifer Ash, son-in-law David Ash and grandchildren Drew and Maddie Ash, all of Connecticut; son David M. Hackett, daughter-in-law Kimberly Hackett and grandchildren Anthony, Laura and Aaron Hackett, all of Venice; as well as five stepchildren, William H.Y. Hackett III of Fort Myers, Emily, Tom and Mark Hackett, all of Vermont, and Olive Hackett of San Francisco. Other survivors include nine step-grandchildren, Megan, Martha and Ira Shaughnessy, Whitney and Abigail Hackett, Cole and William H.Y. Hackett IV, Calder Corey, Lilda Rock-Wiley and Emily Y. Hackett. She is also survived by nine nieces and nephews, including David and Diane Lurvey of Indianapolis.
Her friends in Indianapolis are too numerous to name, but each held a special place. Several of her friendships dated 60 years and longer. Even as she entered her 80s, Frances maintained a youthful spirit. She enjoyed golf, bridge, bowling and, most of all, reading. A tower of books was always close to her bedside.
She last played golf in October, defeating her son, 31 years her junior, on the final hole. She pocketed her winnings in the clubhouse and bought him a beer and hotdog. She never looked happier.
Services will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. Burial will follow at Washington Park Cemetery. A celebration of her life will follow at the Broadmoor Country Club.
Donations in her honor may be made to the Jewish Community Center of Indianapolis, the Southern Poverty Law Center or Feed America. Arrangements provided by Aaron Ruben Nelson Funeral Home.