TCH takes a look back with a few friends

Birmingham resident Jeanne Hackett and others honored at 90 and Beyond lunch

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 3, 2013

 Jeanne Hackett, 94, enjoys a quiet Saturday in her apartment at Maple Village, in Bloomfield Hills.

Jeanne Hackett, 94, enjoys a quiet Saturday in her apartment at Maple Village, in Bloomfield Hills.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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BIRMINGHAM — Jeanne Hackett wants people to know just two things about her: She’s 94 years old, and she’s having a wonderful time.

“I’m just thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying life,” said Hackett. “I just keep very busy. I love my little apartment. I have old friends, I have made new friends, and the days just go by so quickly.”

It was almost 60 years ago that Hackett and her husband, Bob, moved to Birmingham from Cincinnati as newlyweds.  She said she immediately fell in love with what was then a small, quiet town, almost like a “friendly village,” compared to the big-city life she was used to in Ohio. She’s called the city home ever since.

“Birmingham was a lot smaller, and a lot less congested,” Hackett said of the city years ago. “I can remember when the S.S. Kresge Co. was on the corner, and the Methodist church. It was small and not hurried and it was a lot of fun to go (downtown). And there was always a parking place.”

As the decades flew by, things began to change for both Hackett and her beloved city. She and Bob raised two children, and have five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She took up jewelry-making and spent 20 years building a collection of unique beads. Her work has even been shown at the annual OUR TOWN Art Show and Sale at The Community House, where she and her husband often visited over the years.

Of course, not every day was a celebration. Ten years ago, Hackett lost her husband to a sudden illness. In January, she was seriously injured in a car accident. Though she healed, the collision weakened her, and she was forced to give up her car and her long-time Birmingham home, which she could no longer care for on her own.

Even in hard times, though, Hackett never lost her signature sunny outlook.

“Before that accident, I was driving and dancing and doing all sorts of good things,” she said. “But I look back on life in a pleasant way. We move on, but we never moan and groan. I don’t do that.”

Hackett’s story is one that’s deeply rooted in the Birmingham-Bloomfield community, and those are the stories that will be told and honored at the second annual 90 and Beyond luncheon at The Community House. Named for TCH’s more-than 90 years of service, the event will once again invite guests to share a meal with friends and reminisce about days gone by.

“We are proud to host our second annual 90 and Beyond luncheon. For 90 years, TCH has been committed to enhancing the quality of life in the greater community. We could never celebrate, honor and thank those enough who built our beautiful community, and we are forever grateful to them,” said Camille Jayne, president and CEO of TCH, in a prepared statement.

Hackett made it a point to attend the first-ever 90 and Beyond luncheon last year. She said she enjoyed herself, as did other guests — especially those older than 90, who really know how to have a good time.

“We don’t come in there with crutches or canes, but we don’t bounce in there, either,” said Hackett with a laugh. “I think it’s a very fun thing that Camille is doing. It was a beautiful luncheon, and of course, it tasted just heavenly. We sat around the table and looked at others and said, ‘Oh, she looks really good for her age.’ I hope someone at the party sees me and says, ‘Oh, she doesn’t look a day over 90.’”

A highlight of this year’s lunch will be a “Cars and Stars Through the Decades” presentation, showcasing a car from each decade, 1900 through today, along with the stars who owned those vehicles.

Also new this year, thanks to Bank of Birmingham, will be the opportunity for guests 90 and older to attend the event for free. And of course, guests over 90 will be recognized with a special treat — a commemorative photo, courtesy of Aly Darin Photography, and a keepsake gift sponsored by Next Steps 4 Seniors.

The public is welcome to purchase tickets to the lunch for $35, the proceeds from which will go to benefit the many wellness, leadership and outreach programs that TCH offers to children in need in Pontiac and Detroit. And though Hackett has been a longtime supporter of TCH, her focus that day will be to just have a good time — the way she always does.

“You know, I was with someone this morning who was a complete downer. And that is just a total waste of time,” said Hackett. “I think people respond to someone who has personality and obviously enjoys life. I think it’s very, very important not to be a grump. God knows I’m not one because I couldn’t stand myself if I was.”

The second annual 90 and Beyond luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. June 13. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (248) 644-5832 or email programs@tchserves.org.

The Community House is located at 380 S. Bates St. in downtown Birmingham.

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