Donald Pace Hackney, a lifelong resident of Canton, died at the age of 84 in Tyler on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020.
Don was born in Jacksonville, Texas, on Nov. 10, 1936, to Joe and Izel Hackney. The family, including his brother Michael, moved to Canton in 1944 to open a movie theater. Thousands in the community have sentimental memories of The Plaza Theater and the role it played in their lives.
Don graduated from Canton High School and served in the United States Air Force before marrying Patricia McDaniel in 1958. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in mathematics from East Texas State College, now known as Texas A&M University at Commerce. He was a teacher, coach, and principal in East Texas before beginning his career as a field engineer with IBM in 1966. He became owner of The Plaza Theater in 1977 and ran it until it closed in 1988. During much of this time, he commuted to Dallas daily and worked with his wife and four daughters at the theater in the evenings. Upon retirement from IBM after 25 years of service, Don searched for a second career and became a certified appraiser. He and Pat also enjoyed traveling and loved seeing so much of the world and meeting new friends.
Don loved his community. He served on the Canton City Council from 1986 to 1991, as Mayor from 1997 to 2000, and on the Canton Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors from 2012 to 2014. Don was recognized as Van Zandt County’s Outstanding Man of the Year in 2002. He was a member of the Canton Lions Club, the Canton Texas Chamber of Commerce, a small business owner, and supported many civic initiatives. He was a life-long member of the First United Methodist Church of Canton.
Faith, family, and flying were the love and constants in Don’s life. Don’s passion for flying began in 1956. His Dad joined him in this interest and together they built and managed the Canton Hackney Airport for many years. At the time it had a lighted runway, three hangars, an office and fuel that they shared with other local enthusiasts. After having flown for many years, Don became interested in building experimental aircraft. He built seven airplanes--the first from his garage at home. They had to close the highways to the airport so he could taxi it there for its first flight. He was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association and the United Flying Octogenarians, an elite group of pilots over the age of 80. He also introduced many young kids to flying through the Young Eagles program. He was especially close to friends at Tailwind Airpark and hosted the Hangar 12 morning coffee club almost every day for decades.
Don was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Patricia; his brother, Dr. Michael and Juanita Hackney; four daughters and sons-in-law: Donna and Brett Maisel, Kay and Kenneth Stutts, Julie and Greg Seymore, and Christy Pryor; his grandchildren: Joshua and Kyle Maisel and Andrea and Tyler Jackson; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Honorary pallbearers were Joshua Maisel, Kyle Maisel, Tyler Jackson, Chris West and Charlie Peck. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests service in your community.