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Barbara Kloka Hackett

March 17, 1928 December 23, 2018
Barbara  Kloka Hackett
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Obituary for Barbara Kloka Hackett

Family Remembrance

Barbara Kloka Hackett, age 90, of Brighton Michigan and Venice Florida, died peacefully and surrounded by her family on December 23, 2018. Barbara was mindful of and faithfully lived in keeping with the well-known words from the gospel of Luke, “From those to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” Luke 12:48

Barbara (a/k/a Mom, Grandma, Gigi, Aunt Barbara, Judge Hackett) avidly pursued many passions, including her study and practice of the law long before women’s professional capabilities were widely recognized or encouraged. She often expressed deep gratitude for the encouragement, excellent education, and support she received from her parents, the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) sisters, and the Jesuits.

Those who knew Barbara marveled at her boundless energy, remarkable resilience, incredible work ethic, and epic organizational skills. At particularly busy times, she would sometimes exclaim, “I have lists to keep track of my lists!” As testimony to her effectiveness, within days of being deployed to Afghanistan, one of her grandsons sent an email only half-jokingly requesting that Grandma please “pack and come,” estimating it would take her only about two weeks to get things in good order there.

Barbara loved and embraced life. She especially loved Patrick, her dear husband of 65 years, and she loved her family - immediate, extended, and invited - opening her arms and home to many. She developed distinct relationships with each of her 7 children, 11 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. Even when they were as young as 2-4 years old, her great grandchildren would ask to FaceTime with Gigi to share their thoughts and special events of the day.

Barbara loved music and was a gifted pianist, and she nurtured a love of music and singing in her family as well. She regularly harmonized (literally and figuratively) with her beloved Patrick, together calling each child, grandchild and great grandchild on their respective birthdays for a cherished, 2-part rendition of the Happy Birthday song. She loved the arts, driving Patrick and herself as recently as a year and a half ago to performances at the Venice Theatre in Florida and the symphony in Sarasota. She loved water, living on it, swimming in it, or gazing out over it at a beautiful view. She loved adventure, parasailing on her 65th birthday and barrel rolling in an open-air, historic biplane on her 75th, sporting a white silk scarf from her daughters, while her loving husband averted his eyes on the ground below. She loved to travel – abroad, across the United States and closer to home - particularly relishing road trips in Michigan and to the Upper Peninsula. And for these trips, as one of her grandsons put it, she frequently drove a motor home “like a boss.”

In keeping with her belief that “anything worth doing is worth doing well,” Barbara loved things that were thoughtfully designed and well crafted. She loved to stop and view the artistry in Berea, Kentucky on her many drives between Michigan and Florida, at the Jampot in Eagle Harbor, Michigan, and at a favorite stained glass shop in Traverse City. But she also was very practical, and ever on the lookout for a good bargain. So when she bought a Fiat Spider convertible once her children were grown (with a 5-speed manual transmission, 2 bucket seats and “no room for groceries”), it was deeply discounted, due to its improbable, robin’s egg blue color. She then drove a series of new-to-her Corvettes (“because they had good pick-up”) that she acquired at the family rate from a young neighbor and car-loving friend. She loved finely made clothes, accessories, and shoes, which she conscientiously maintained for decades, storing them in closets dubbed “Chez Barbara” by her daughters and granddaughters, who frequently raided them, and eventually donating them in near-perfect condition “for others to enjoy.” She loved humor and could cause a room to erupt in laughter with her own quick wit (as when she responded to the gentle assurance of her hospice nurse that she would be aware of all that was going on around her in her final days by playfully inquiring of her daughters: “Did you hear that, girls?”).

Barbara was the oldest of Bessie (Kobe) and Martin Kloka’s two daughters. She excelled at St. Gregory School in Detroit, Michigan (K-12) and pursued both her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Detroit and University of Detroit Law School (now U of D Mercy). Barbara began her studies of law while still an undergraduate, taking classes at the law school campus in the morning and on the university’s Six Mile/McNichols campus in the afternoon. In this way, she completed a philosophy degree in 1948 and her juris doctor in 1950. On her first day of law school, Barbara (one of only four women in her graduating class) met her beloved Patrick when he attempted, unsuccessfully, to lay claim to her locker. The rest is history. Barbara and Patrick were married on April 19, 1952, and in the spring of 2017, they celebrated 65 years of marriage.
Barbara went on to have a long, distinguished and groundbreaking legal career. After graduating from law school, she worked as a staff assistant in the Law Department for the Michigan-Wisconsin Pipeline Company (1950-51), as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Frank Picard of the Eastern District of Michigan (1951-52), and in private practice from 1952-65. She served as chief law clerk of the newly created Michigan Court of Appeals in 1965-66, assistant Wayne County prosecutor from 1967-72, and resumed private practice in 1972-73. In 1973, she was appointed a federal magistrate judge in the Eastern District of Michigan, the first woman to hold that position. On April 7, 1986, President Ronald Reagan appointed her to the U.S. District Court bench in Detroit. Judicial colleagues describe her tenure as “exemplary” and say that she was “savvy and smart,” “gentlewomanly,” and “deeply respected by the entire bar.” When asked in a recent interview how she wanted to be remembered as a judge, she said simply: “As someone who cared about people.”

Barbara was active in various professional, civic and service organizations. Among these, she founded and served as the first chair of the Criminal Law Section of the Michigan Bar Association and founded the Republican Women’s Forum in Detroit. She served as president of the Women’s Economic Club, was a member of the Board of Directors of the Economic Club of Detroit, and served on the Board of Trustees for the University of Detroit. She also was a member of the Board of Directors of Comerica Bank.

Barbara was devout in her Catholic faith and deeply rooted in Catholic tradition, combining faith and reason. As another friend and colleague in the law observed: “She was a faithful servant who did her job and deserves to be celebrated. They will be dancing in Paradise when she enters the Pearly Gates.”

Barbara is survived by 7 daughters, Sue Delonis (the late Bob Delonis), Carol Hackett Garagiola (Steve Garagiola), Lynn Hackett, Meg Hackett, M. Patricia Hackett (Rita Koehler), Elizabeth Hackett (Richard Parry), and Sarah Hackett (Greg Cascione); by 11 grandchildren, Bobby Delonis (Jocelyne Vigier), Martin Delonis (Genevieve Delonis), Matthew Delonis, Katie Garagiola (Michael Masson), Megan Garagiola, Ruth Whitney (Bill Whitney), Francis Shiman-Hackett, Anna Seerey, Patrick Hackett Carrier, Kevin Hackett Carrier, and Beth Hackett Carrier; by 8 great grandchildren, Sophie Delonis-Vigier, Corinne Delonis-Vigier, Juliet Whitney, Austin Whitney, Emile Masson, Lucas Masson, Lillian Delonis and Bo Delonis; by her brother-in-law Bob Rainer; by many loving nieces and nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews; and by countless friends.
Barbara was preceded in death by her beloved husband Patrick, her parents, Martin and Bessie Kloka; by her sister and brother-in-law, Millie and Bob Pastor, and by her sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law by marriage: Jim and Theo Hackett, Mary and Ed Valliere, John and Sally Hackett, Ed Hackett, Tom and Nancy Hackett, Rose and Reinard Nanzig, Rev. Frank Hackett, Ann and Tom O’Brien, and Katie Rainer.

Visitation is scheduled for Friday evening, December 28, 2018 from 5:00PM – 8:00PM at Saint Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, 2201 S. Old US 23, Brighton, Michigan 48114, with a prayer service at 7:00pm. A Mass of the Resurrection and interment are scheduled for Saturday morning, December 29, 2018 at 10:00AM (with visitation from 9-10AM) also at Saint Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Brighton, Michigan, with a reception to follow. Fr. David F. Howell will officiate. For further information, contact Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors in Brighton at All are welcome to attend and celebrate Barbara’s life.

The family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff of St. Joseph Mercy Health System, Hospital, and Home Care; the IHA Physicians Group; our wonderful home caregivers; and Arbor Hospice and Palliative Care for their abundant skill and compassionate concern.

In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that those who wish to honor Barbara’s memory consider donations to:
The Patrick and Barbara Hackett Scholarship at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan at (Click “other” in the box under the Designation section and enter the “Patrick and Barbara Hackett Scholarship” in the designation box);
Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit, Michigan at ; or
University of Detroit Mercy Law School at

Previous Events





5:00 PM 12/28/2018 5:00:00 PM - 8:00 PM 12/28/2018 8:00:00 PM
St. Mary Magdalen Church

2201 S. Old US 23
Brighton, MI 48114

Memorial gathering will be held at the church.

St. Mary Magdalen Church
2201 S. Old US 23 Brighton 48114 MI
United States

Evening Service




7:00 PM 12/28/2018 7:00:00 PM
St. Mary Magdalen Church

2201 S. Old US 23
Brighton, MI 48114

Scripture Service at 7:00 PM.

St. Mary Magdalen Church
2201 S. Old US 23 Brighton 48114 MI
United States





10:00 AM 12/29/2018 10:00:00 AM
St. Mary Magdalen Church

2201 S. Old US 23
Brighton, MI 48114

Mass of the Resurrection will be held at the church on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 10 AM, with gathering beginning at 9 AM.

St. Mary Magdalen Church
2201 S. Old US 23 Brighton 48114 MI
United States

Memorial Contribution

Capuchin Soup Kitchen

1820 Mt. Elliott
Detroit, MI 48207

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

Detroit Mercy Law Office of Alumni Relations and Development
651 E. Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226

Mercy High School--The Patrick and Barbara Hackett Scholarship

Mercy Advancement Office
29300 W. 11 Mile Rd.
Farmington Hills, MI 48336

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