Colleen Mahoney Hackett passed away December 21, 2022, eighteen days after her 88th birthday. She was born December 3, 1934, in Bismarck, North Dakota, and moved to Eugene in 1958 with her husband Martin.
Colleen and Marty first met during their sophomore year of college in Spokane, Washington. After graduating from Holy Names Academy in 1956, Colleen moved to Omaha, Nebraska, working in hospitals as a medical technician while Marty attended Creighton University School of Dentistry.
Although they had no family ties to Oregon, they took a flyer and decided to settle in Eugene, raising their four children here. While Marty was drawn to University of Oregon sports, Colleen was taken by the verdant landscape. She loved the beaches, mountains and rivers. But above all, she loved transforming her own yard into a refuge of beauty and creativity.
For Colleen, yard work was never a chore; it was always an experience in imagination and reflection. Her landscaping was the truest expression of her best herself. Like any great artist, she was driven by an inner imperative to bring out the soul of the thing, whether that was Bonsai tree or a towering spruce.
The sensibility extended to her appreciation of art, and to her own sculptures, vase arrangements and watercolors. Not every effort was successful, but she was patient and persistent, trusting that moments of grace would eventually come.
She could also be defiantly tenacious. Once, after taking an art class at Amazon Community Center, her instructor rejected Colleen’s work for a group show. Undeterred, Colleen and Marty snuck into the center and, like any genuine artist vexed by pedestrian convention, hung one of her paintings anyway.
She got that defiant streak—as well as her quick humor, her love of dogs and her abiding Catholic faith—from her father, who gave her the nickname Deedle. A short and feisty Irishman, Lawrence Mahoney owned a bar and a restaurant in the small town of Washburn, forty miles up river from Bismarck. As a young girl during the Depression and the war years, Deedle loved helping her dad around the bar, observing the unruly lives of farmers and ranchers, and singing along to the jukebox. It was her beautiful voice that Marty first fell in love with. From her mother, Colleen got a capacity for hard work.
Colleen and Marty were married for 64 years, with Marty passing away in September after battling dementia. Though loss and sadness colored her remaining three months, Colleen also found an elusive peace of mind. Even after suffering a stroke that kept her from talking, she was as always able to laugh with her children and roll her eyes at life’s ups and downs.
Colleen is preceded in death by her parents Bertha and Lawrence, her sister Sweetheart and her husband Marty. Her sister Petie, her daughters Bridget, Amy
and Mollie, her son Thomas, her grandsons Andrew and Quinn, and her beloved dog Lucy survive her.
In recognition of her independence, Colleen’s children will hold a private service at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, with a home reception planned for the spring, when her lovely yard and singular spirit will be in full bloom.