Hackney Retires from Post 283
Ruth Hackney retired from her job at the American Legion on December 14. More than 150 people came to the Post the next night to honor her at a sit-down dinner.
On behalf of Representative Ted Lieu, Janet Turner presented Hackney with a certificate of appreciation for her years of devotion to veterans.
Hackney started working as an administrative assistant at Post 283 in 2000. “When adjutant Bill Wawerchak got sick, I came in to help,” said Hackney, who has received five American Legion Auxiliary National Awards (1980, 1981, 1984, 2000 and 2010).
In addition to manning the phones and computer from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, Ruth also oversaw membership for the Post, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion.
As far as institutional knowledge about Post 283 and the tenets of the American Legion, Hackney, who never revealed her age, but is most likely in her 80s, will be solely missed.
If anyone had any questions about the Legion, auxiliary or Sons of American Legion, it was “Call Ruth.” “Ask Ruth.” “RSVP to Ruth.” “Ruth will know”—and she did know.
Her retirement was precipitated by her Venice landlord John Tapia telling his four rent-controlled tenants that he was tearing the building down to erect offices.
Although Hackney looked for a new apartment, it became apparent that affordable spaces in Los Angles were difficult to find. She finally decided to move to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to be nearer her son James. She left Los Angeles on December 17.
Her associate at Post 283 Deloris Artis arranged the dinner and will remain at the Post.
Hackney, who is one of 12 children, was born and raised in Grafton, West Virginia, the daughter of a homemaker and a railroad engineer for the B & O.
Her family had a long history of service to the United States. While in junior high, two of Hackney’s brothers (Ralph was in the Air Force and Sid in the Navy) were killed in World War II. Her brother Jim was drafted for Korea, but Hackney’s mother went to the State Department and argued she didn’t want to lose another son. Although Jim was still required to serve in the Army, he was sent to Japan instead of Korea. Another brother Tom joined the Air Force and served in Vietnam.
Hackney’s sister Connie fought the U.S. Government on behalf of her husband, who had suffered the effects of Agent Orange after serving as a fighter pilot in Vietnam.
Hackney was working for Shoney’s Big Boy in Ashland, Kentucky, when she met her future husband, James an Army corporal who had just returned from Korea.
In 1961, the Hackneys moved to Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. James worked as an evening manager at the Van de Kamp’s bakery. Ruth worked during the day, first at Argos (a restaurant in Hollywood) and then at the Sentinels Crest House, which served Greek and Italian food (and was owned by a Palisadian, the late Peter Drake). Later the couple (and their now two children) moved to Venice.
The couple were both active in the Beverly Hills Post–Ruth joined the Auxiliary in 1958. When that auxiliary folded, she joined Post 283.
They were married for 54 years, before James died in 2009.
Before Hackney left she told everyone, “I’ll see you at the National Convention.”