Barbara A. Hackey, 90, of Wakefield, passed away peacefully on Friday, September 4th. She was the beloved wife of the late Frederick W. Hackey, Jr. Born at South County Hospital in Wakefield, she was the daughter of the late Robert and Emma (Tourgee) Bristow. She was a lifelong resident of South Kingstown.
Barbara’s life was defined by caring for others. As a nursing student at St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing, she supervised an entire ward of patients at the age of 19. After graduating from St. Joseph’s in 1951, she began a career at South County Hospital that spanned more than three decades. Barbara cared for countless patients in a variety of settings, including the hospital’s emergency room, medical-surgical floors, and the operating room. Barbara loved the limelight and wrote and produced many of the hospital’s annual talent shows, where she showcased her acting and singing talents. She retired in 1988 as Director of Surgical Services after coordinating the construction of the hospital’s new surgical suite.
Barbara had a deep passion for politics and public service. Her political activism began as a little girl when she attended local Democratic party meetings with her father. A lifelong Democrat, she was elected as Town Moderator in South Kingstown in 1977. Barbara was the first woman to serve in this position, which she held for a decade. She also served as a member of the town’s Zoning Board of Review for three years. Anyone who ever attended a town financial meeting under her leadership knew they were in for a treat, as Barbara ruled the room with an iron gavel. Staring out over her half glasses, she kept order during raucous debates about schools, taxes, and town finances. She was tough but fair – everyone got a chance to speak, but she never hesitated to let folks know what she thought.
Barbara’s love for politics led her to continue her education; she graduated from URI with her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1981. In 1987, Barbara was elected to the town council, receiving more votes than any other candidate. She served on the council for 17 years, including five terms as president. Barbara never left any doubt as to who presided over the chamber. Meetings under her leadership were never dull – in fact, they were ‘must see’ public access TV. Barbara was involved with the planning of the new Senior Center, expanding senior services for the residents of South Kingstown, and the development of South County Commons. During her time on the Town Council, Barbara also visited local schools to educate 3rd graders about how their local government worked; she loved hosting elementary school students for tours of the Town Hall. Barbara also relished the opportunity to share her experience growing up in the Washington County Jail in Kingston where her dad was the Sheriff in the 1930s. Students loved hearing her stories about roller skating in the cellblock as a child.
Barbara’s faith was a vital part of her life. She converted to Catholicism as a teenager and was a dedicated parishioner at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Narragansett where she served as a lector, Eucharistic Minister, and a Minister to the sick and homebound.
During her retirement, Barbara held court every morning in the coffee shop at Old Mountain Lanes with her close friends. She was an avid gardener who loved solving crossword puzzles and cozying up with her cat on her lap. Barbara spent the last three years of her life at Elderwood of Scallop Shell at Wakefield. Once a nurse, always a nurse - Barbara made daily rounds to check on her fellow residents and she could often be found at the nurses’ station chatting with the staff. The staff at the Scallop Shell became a second family to Barbara, particularly during the past six months, when in-person visits from friends and family were no longer possible.
She is survived by a son, Robert Hackey and his wife Tacy – both of Wakefield; and two granddaughters, Meagan and Sarah.
To protect the health and well-being of her family and friends, visiting hours are respectfully omitted. Barbara’s Mass of Christian Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, 864 Pt. Judith Road, Narragansett, RI 02882 or to the Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter, 245 Waterman St #306, Providence, RI 02906 (alz.org/ri). For guest book and condolences, please visit averystortifuneralhome.com.