New Mexico masters inspiration Hugh Hackett dies at age 90

Hugh Hackett, a New Mexico coaching legend who competed as recently as last year, died last month of a heart attack. He was 90, and his wife informed friends recently. Tim Edwards of Scottsdale, Arizona, writes that Hugh “often competed here in masters meets in Arizona as he split his time between Albuquerque and Mesa. I have known him for the last eight years. Even over the last few years when he seemed to look ill, he would often compete in a running event, the long jump, and all the throws events in one meet when the temperature often exceeded 100 degrees. He was a real inspiration to many of us here in Arizona.” His funeral was Dec. 29.

New Mexico long jumper Clarence Robinson is shown with coach Hugh in 1965.

Here’s a note sent by another friend of Hugh’s:

In the unlikely event that the very sad news of Hugh Hackett’s death has not yet reached you, I thought it wise to share what I have just learned of it. Mary Claire Hackett, Hugh’s lovely wife, rang moments ago to inform me that Hugh died quite suddenly of an apparent heart seizure in the east valley on December 22, 2010. Since I do not have access to your distribution list of Arizona masters track and field athletes and since I surmise that Hugh’s many friends in the sport would like to know of his unhappy end, I had hoped that you would consider forwarding this to them.

For those who would like to express their sympathies to Mary Claire, she may be found at P.O. Box 3082, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87190. She told me several times in the most authentically sincere ways how much Hugh thought of us and how much we all meant to him.

He was 91 (other sources say 90) years of age and a thoroughly splendid fellow; he was for many years the head track and field coach at the University of New Mexico; and he coached many luminary figures in the history of intercollegiate track and field, including Adolph Plummer, Dickie Howard and Buster Quist.

It will hardly seem like a track and field meet, certainly not a hammer-throw competition, without the great Coach Hackett. He was an utter inspiration to the lot of the younger athletes, which is to say all of his fellow chuckers of hammer most especially.

Here’s his obit from the Albuquerque Journal:

A funeral mass for University of New Mexico and Highland High School coaching legend Hugh Hackett will be held Wednesday.

The services will be at 9 a.m. at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Albuquerque. Internment will follow at the Santa Fe National Cemetary. A rosary will be held tonight at 7 at Our Lady of Fatima.

Hackett, who died Friday at age 90, built the UNM track team into a national power in the 1960s. The Lobos defeated No. 1 Southern California in 1965, winning every race on the track.

He also coached Highland High to the state football championship in 1954.

After retiring from coaching at UNM in 1976, he competed in national masters track and field meets, winning several medals.

Hackett is survived by his wife of 25 years, Mary Clare, three daughters and six sons.

Another death notice suggested a 2011 memorial would be held:

HACKETT — Hugh Hackett, age 90 of Albuquerque, passed away on Wednesday, December 22, 2010. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Mary Clare of Albuquerque; six sons, Michael David of Albuquerque, Patrick and his wife Anita of El Paso TX, Steve and his wife Anita of Placitas, and Gregory Dean and his wife Liz of Rio Rancho, Tom Faddis of Colorado and David Faddis and his wife Lulu of La Quinta, California; 3 daughters, Margaret Mary of Hawaii, Mary Ann of Roswell, Kathy of Albuquerque; He was preceded in death by his sons Hugh Jr. and Timothy. Coach Hackett’s legacy will be honored with a public visitation at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, 4020 Lomas, NE on Tuesday, December 28, at 5:30 p.m., followed by a rosary and tribute service at 7:00 p.m. A funeral mass will be held at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church on Wednesday morning, December 29 at 9:00 a.m. Interment will follow at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. There will be another public memorial tribute service for Coach Hackett in the spring of 2011. The date, place and time will be announced at a later date in the Albuquerque Journal and on the guestbook. Please visit the online guestbook for Hugh at: FRENCH 1111 University Blvd. NE (505) 843-6333

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January 6, 2011

4 Responses

  1. leigh - January 7, 2011

    I dont throw hammer much, but most of the time I did Hugh was there. we threw about the same distance and so Hugh would challenge me as to who would win our own competition within the competition. I think I won once…He was so sweet and it was such a pleasure to see him and his lovely wife at the meets. I never knew about his history in track as a coach and am so glad that he is being remembered here.

  2. bf - January 7, 2011

    He was quite a guy. I was on UNM team in ’66-67, but left (hammy pulls) before getting to know him. Got to know him better in his Masters days (’92-).
    He sure gave 100% – never will forget his effort
    (on his face) in triplejumping 30’4″ in 1993, at 73. And running 80mHurdles against 12-y-olds later in the meet(and placing 3rd?..!) If not for heart attack(?)in ’94, he would have set some US or world records(Decathlon,Pent.),I’m sure. One of the ‘greatest generation’ types(WWII heroics), for sure. Was fortunate to know him, and his wonderful wife Marie Claire.

  3. David Hampton - January 11, 2011

    Hugh was cool. I remember him throwing the weight the last few years in New Mexico. He frequently would fall out the front of the ring, but never seemed to hurt himself.

  4. Ron Pies - February 2, 2019

    I was blessed and fortunate to be ne of Hugh Hackett’s track athletes at Highland High, who was recruited to accompany him to the University of New Mexico. That changed my life, as I was ready to join the military after high school. Funds were not available or a college education. Hugh and Mary Claire remained lifetime friends, as they spent their winters in Mesa, Arizona. I had moved to Tempe, Arizona. Hugh Hackett’s coaching was only part f his contributions to the lives of his athletes. He was a deeply religious man who set an example that transcended athletics. Outside of my parents and family, no one had Moore of a sitive impact on my life.

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