July 17, 1946 ~ July 7, 2019
Born in: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Resided in: AURORA, CO
Raymond J. Hackett, Jr., was born to Raymond and Mary (McDonough) on July 17, 1946, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He passed away on July 7, 2019 after battling a long, chronic illness. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Helen, his daughter, Heather, son, Sean, and grandson, Archer. Most of Ray’s family still lives in Pennsylvania.
He graduated from high school at Verona High School, in Verona, Pennsylvania (just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) in 1964. During high school he worked in various family businesses as well as a camera shop delivering film. Several cars were the victim of his film delivery job.
In 1966 he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in Germany and then later volunteering to serve in Vietnam. He was stationed in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 where he was unfortunately exposed to Agent Orange. He was honorably discharged from the army in 1969. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Vietnam Campaign Medal.
After returning from Vietnam, he returned to Verona where he worked in the local steel mill prior to moving to Washington, D.C. and becoming a police officer. He worked in the Sixth District of Washington, D.C. as a patrol officer for the next nine years until he was shot in the hand in the line of duty, forcing him to retire early.
After retiring, he moved with his wife and family to Great Falls, Montana. During the next several years he was a stay at home father taking care of his children while Helen worked at the local Air Force base. After his children were old enough, Ray went back to school to become an occupational therapist assistant. He received his associate degree in occupational therapy assistance in 1990. He worked for the local hospital system in this capacity until 1999 when the effects of serious kidney disease forced him to quit his job.
In December of 2000 he received a new kidney from his daughter, Heather, allowing him to enjoy traveling, being with his family, and his other interests, for the next 15 years. Unfortunately, his donated kidney would not continue to function, and Ray became ill again in 2015 forcing him to undergo dialysis three times a week. Ray fought hard to stay as active and positive as possible during this time, but unfortunately, dialysis was very hard on his body and spirit.
While his daughter played softball in high school, Ray got the nickname of Big Ray of Sunshine from one of Heather’s teammates. The name stuck through the years, and Heather and her friends frequently referred to him as Big Ray or Big Ray of Sunshine. Ray had a great, dry, sense of humor and loved telling Dad jokes, particularly when driving past a cemetery or when seeing someone trip.
He and Helen enjoyed traveling by themselves and with their family, traveling around the U.S. and to various European countries over the years. In 2011, they moved from Great Falls, MT to Aurora, Colorado to spend more time with their daughter and grandson.
Ray was a member of the Association of Retired Police Officers and the Knights of Columbus. Ray was a big Steelers and Rockies’ fan, and rarely missed watching the games and threatening to turn the game off when things were not going his teams’ way. He was an avid reader who enjoyed reading crime and spy novels as well as non-fiction about military history. He especially enjoyed spending time with his grandson.
Ray was able to talk with anyone, and was appreciated by those who met him. Even when ill, he made friends with the technicians who performed his dialysis and hospice nurse. He will be missed by his family, friends, and all those who knew him.
He is survived by his siblings, Terry, Patrick, Mary, and Peggy, and preceded in death by his parents, and brothers Burt and Michael.
Donations can be made in his honor to any kidney, diabetes, or organ donation organization.