BJ Hackler, 83, of St. Joseph, passed away at 5:00 pm, Tuesday, September 7, 2021 as he joined the love of his life, Dixie, for their upcoming 60th wedding anniversary.
BJ was born January 21, 1938, in Ridgefarm, IL, the son of Olen and Frances Hackler. He grew up in Ridgefarm and after graduating from Ridgefarm High School, graduated beauty school in Danville. A quick study, BJ was cutting hair, rolling rollers and wrapping permanents early in the 6 month program – the owner said he had the knack. That knack led him to become part owner in the Ridgefarm beauty shop and later, own his own shop, BJ’s Beauty Shop, St Joseph in 1964; a career that spanned over 60 years.
BJ met Dixie Myers while washing show hogs at county fairs. Their meeting later led to a date and they married October 27, 1961.
Soon after getting married, BJ and Dixie headed to Fort Carson located in Colorado Springs, CO while BJ served in the Army as a cryptographer. Their first daughter, Traci Jarvis (Greg) was born there. In 1964, they settled in St. Joseph, IL. Second daughter Tonya Hackler-Bayler (Oscar), was born and shortly after, Dixie and BJ bought their first home where they raised their girls.
While working as a beautician in both Ridgefarm and St Joseph, BJ completed the necessary training to be a volunteer firefighter. His involvement with the village of St Joseph led him to serve as a Village Board Trustee for 10 years after which he ran for Village President/Mayor in 1980 and served in that capacity for 36 years. St. Joseph saw many changes during those 36 years!
BJ loved his town as was evident in the success he helped foster for the St Joseph community. He became active in the Village President/Mayor SUMOA league as a member and then President. That involvement led him to be appointed to the Illinois Municipal League board, later serving as President and Past-President. An additional appointment to the national EPA committee, as did SUMOA and IML, allowed him to be a voice at the federal and state levels for small towns.
While raising the girls with Dixie, giving back to the community, and owning his own business, he still found time for his many interests which included his love of collecting Abraham Lincoln pieces and reading Lincoln history, elephants, snow skiing and most of all, fishing. As a member of the Champaign Ski Club, he competed in his first downhill race at age 50. An avid fisherman, he traveled to Canada annually for 15 years with friends and family. His fishing rod and tackle box were permanent fixtures in his vehicle as you never knew when you might have time for a few casts. He loved parades and most recently, enjoyed decorating his golf cart for any event. BJ’s faith was strong and he was an active member in the St. Joseph United Methodist church since he and Dixie settled in St Joseph.
Even before retiring in December 2017, BJ and Dixie got the travel bug having gone to France with the ski club to ski the Swiss Alps. They joined Traci and her family and traveled to London and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with the whole family on a cruise to Mexico. Many trips with family and friends followed his retirement including Niagara Falls, the western U.S. and New England area, Alaska, Jamaica, and Ireland. A must was always the Hackler family reunion held in Virginia. It never failed, wherever he traveled he always ended up seeing someone he knew and making new friends.
After retiring from the beauty shop and Village President, BJ continued to give back to the community through his volunteer efforts be it the church’s mission work, Feed the Need program and Miss Piggy’s Pork Palace, St Joseph American Legion Post #634 and so many others.
Grandkids include Kiersten Jarvis (Jeremy Cantor), Ross Baker (Rosie), Sean Jarvis, Carson Baker (deceased) and Sydney Meltzer (Daniel); great-grandkids Addie, Clark and Mark Baker and Ewan Cantor.
BJ was preceded in death by Dixie, his parents, brother, in-laws and grandson.
BJ loved life. He had many friends, all of which say they were better off having known him. Anyone that met with BJ always left with a smile on their face.
A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, September 19, 2021, at BJ Hackler Park, 1400 Park Ave, St. Joseph, IL. A golf cart shuttle service will be available from Living Word Church parking lot. Visitation will be from 12pm-4pm with the service following. Burial will be at the G.A.R. Cemetery in Homer.
Out of respect for everyone attending, the family asks that social distancing practices be followed.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in BJ’s name can be made to the Feed the Need/St. Joseph United Methodist Church, 205 N 3rd St, St. Joseph, IL or the Parks & Recreation Fund/Village of St Joseph, 207 E Lincoln St, St. Joseph, IL.
Funeral arrangements handled by Freese Funeral Home, St. Joseph, IL.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of B.J. Hackler, please visit our floral store.