Henry S. Hacker

Henry S. Hacker

Henry HackerREMEMBRANCE

From Fred Roberts: “While Henry and I had countless incredible memories from our 63-year friendship, one came to mind as being both Yale-centric and particularly profound for us both. In 2010, Henry and I spent three months commuting to New Haven throughout the exhibit of his British Railway Posters at The Yale Center for British Art, entitled Art for All: British Posters for Transport. Then, two weeks later, we resumed our commute for the two-month exhibit of my photographs entitled Humanitas: Images of India, at the Whitney Humanities Center. It was a unique and extraordinary shared experience, and one which I will cherish forever. In case you did not have the opportunity to see Henry’s collection, here is a link to the exhibit (Art for All: British Posters for Transport) and its review in the WSJ (Vehicles for Art and Travel).”




OBITUARY

Henry Samuel Hacker (“Hank” to many of his closest friends), beloved father, grandfather, cousin, uncle, friend, lifelong scholar and New York sports fan, died peacefully on June 6, 2024, in Boston, MA. He was 81.

Henry was born on December 26, 1942, in New York City, and was raised in Beacon, NY, where his parents, immigrants from Austria who escaped Nazi persecution, settled in response to a call for doctors to fill a void left by World War II. After graduating from Williston Academy, Henry was awarded an English Speaking Union scholarship and traveled aboard the RMS Queen Mary to spend a gap year at Sutton Valence School in England, an experience that ignited his enduring passion for British culture. While at Sutton Valence, Henry made lifelong friends from both sides of the Atlantic and would return often to visit the school throughout his life. From there, Henry went on to graduate from Yale University and Cornell Law School.

Henry’s professional career was diverse and prolific. His early years were spent in investment banking at Dean Witter and from there he began a long tenure as a corporate lawyer in private practice, first at Skadden Arps when the firm was still in its infancy and later at his own firm. In 1995, Henry left the legal profession to become Chief Operating Officer for the popular menswear brand Alexander Julian, helping the company grow rapidly through creative licensing opportunities. He parlayed that experience into his own lifestyle and branding consultancy firm, Hacker, Dolan + Partners, and spent the remainder of his career helping clients, including fashion designers, musicians, artists and other creative people, monetize their talent. Clients and colleagues recall Henry as a skilled negotiator and a man possessing a keen intellect and unimpeachable honesty, integrity and character.

A thruline in Henry’s life was a passion for history, art and amassing collections, not merely for his own satisfaction, but to preserve items of cultural and historical significance for future generations. He donated generously throughout his life, and in an interview, he once observed: “If you give your collections to a museum, you can always go visit them.” While this lifelong pursuit had the humble origins of collecting baseball cards as a child, Henry’s collections would go on to be featured in museums throughout the world. He donated his 6,000 item baseball card collection to the Hudson River Museum in New York and his collection of over 500 British transportation posters resides in permanent collection at the Yale Center for British Art. The British poster collection was featured prominently in an exhibit titled “Art for All: British Posters for Transport” at Yale, the Wolfsonian in Miami and several other international museums.

In retirement, Henry’s indefatigable passion for scholarship and arts access led him back to school, where he wrote a thesis on the restitution of art looted during the Holocaust. At 71, he earned his third degree, a master’s in museum studies from the Harvard Extension School. In recognition of this feat, he was featured in the Harvard Gazette as a “stellar graduate” alongside other graduating Harvard students (most close to 50 years younger than him).

Above all else, Henry was a devoted and loving father and grandfather. As a vault of esoteric knowledge, he could always be counted on for help perfecting a high school, college or graduate school essay (often with an impending deadline); solving a particularly daunting corporate finance problem set; preparing for law school exams; or completing a Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. He never missed an opportunity to watch one of his children’s various sporting events, and was known to spend his weekends driving countless hours across the Northeast (and beyond) to figure skating competitions, ice hockey tournaments and Middlebury football and Tufts lacrosse games. Henry was incredibly generous with his time and resources and always there when needed most, whether through a simple reassuring phone call, an emergency financial “loan” or even riding shotgun on a cross-country drive. He was a world class listener and advisor, and his children (along with clients, colleagues, friends and other family) were the beneficiaries of his practical advice, even keel and unfailing advocacy.

Henry’s family is grateful for the eight years he lived after receiving a kidney transplant from a generous deceased donor and for the care he received from many doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. He is survived by his children, Michael, Matthew, and Katrina Hacker; their spouses, C.J. Hacker, Sarah Dmitrovsky, and Charlotte Hastings; grandsons Luke, Colt, Pete, and James Hacker; and many loving cousins, nieces and nephews and lifelong friends. In lieu of flowers, please consider registering as an organ donor when you renew your driver’s license or online at https://registerme.org/, or making a donation in Henry’s honor to the Massachusetts Organ Transplant Fund/New England Donor Services (https://neds.org/) or the Yale Center for British Art (https://britishart.yale.edu/get-involved). A memorial service will be held at a later date.