Melody Maher Hackett, 60, died on Friday, September 2, 2022, at her home in Fort Pierre. A funeral service will be held at 2:00pm on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at St. John’s Catholic Church, with burial to follow at Scotty Philip Cemetery all in Fort Pierre.
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Melody Maher Hackett was born April 21, 1962 to IdaBelle Marie (Smith) Maher and William J Maher. She grew up on the ranch north of Pierre, South Dakota on the Grey Goose Road with her brother Shawn, and sisters Holly and Sherry.
Looking back Melody felt very fortunate that she lived three lives. Birth through 25, 25-50, 50-100.
Birth -25: In Melody’s words she grew up “hard and fast”. She was a real cowgirl and spent most days in the saddle. She could pull a calf, assist a c-section, plant corn, bail hay, fix fence, A-I a cow, pregnancy test, pull a well, dynamite a man-made dam, and that is just to name a few by the age of 15. During high school, she also attended the Kenneth Gregg School of Auctioneering in Texas where she was the only female auctioneer. Her mother IdaBelle always said the kids were the hired men (women) and she was right.
There wasn’t a horse Melody couldn’t ride but she quickly fell in love with a horse named Zoder that she proclaimed was her best friend. She competed in every event: barrels, poles, goats, breakaway, team roping, cattle cutting, and queen. She excelled in every rodeo association including 4-H, Little Britches, High School, SDRA, College Rodeo for SDSU and DWU, and the WPRA. Melody also represented many rodeos and associations as Rodeo Queen. She loved promoting rodeo all over the region and did it with a smile on her face everywhere she traveled. She and her siblings also bucked out bulls to sell to rough stock contractors. Melody and her sister Holly even road a bull double just for something to do. One of her favorite memories was winning the State High School Barrel Racing Championship on Zoder. He brought her many years of joy, but when Zoder passed away a part of her heart went with him. She never competed in a rodeo again and walked away from the sport she loved.
During one of her reigns as rodeo queen Melody met the love of her life, Mark Hackett. He introduced her to an entirely new world. A world of sports with no horses. He was a three-sport college athlete and she loved every minute of challenging herself to learn and compete alongside of him. She drove his parent’s 35 ft motor home hauling teammates to softball tournaments all over the region. They were married in 1984 and welcomed their daughters Lyndsey in 1987 and Taylor in 1993. The girls were the light of her life. When the girls started to play sports Mark and Melody spent many years hauling traveling teams all over the state. Melody was their biggest cheerleader. She loved every second!
Melody and Mark both planned to play softball as long as their legs would allow and boy did Melody’s legs give her a good run. Her house is filled with an unending collage of fastpitch and slowpitch uniforms, plaques, All Tourney patches, and State/Regional/National Trophies. She felt so fortunate to get to play with some of the best athletes/teammates in the state. She also proclaimed she was blessed to have the best coaches. One of those coaches convinced her to play in the outfield many years after she thought she should retire. Coach Hermsen and Melody would “disagree” about the line-up. Melody would proclaim she was the old lady and needed to sit the bench, while Coach Hermsen would tell her to get her @@@ out to left field. This combination led to many State Championships well into the years that Melody thought her career was over. There were many tears shed after those Championships, not sad tears that the season was over, but rather tears of joy because Melody felt so fortunate to get to be a part of something so fun. Melody never took anything for granted. She loved life, loved her family, loved her teammates/coaches, loved all animals, and she thanked God every step of the way. She always felt very blessed. Something Mel was so proud of was that she got to play ball with both of her girls. She always said, “the girls will never know just how much it means to me, not only to be their Mom but to get to call them teammates.”
What Melody called her “third life” came after a diagnosis of Large B-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. From the moment of diagnosis Melody never looked back. She drew off her many years of trusting in God, having a game plan, of listening to her coaches, and being thankful for all the joy she had experienced in her first half-century of life. She met each day with purpose and after months of hospital stays, chemo, and radiation she grabbed the W.
To celebrate, Melody and her great friend Ellen Ludemann ran the Deadwood Trail Half Marathon. She felt God was giving her another 50 years, and oh was she grateful. Melody started each and every day thanking God for a great day, for all of their blessings, and for their health. Lyndsey and Taylor received an email each morning expressing just that.
And the Nana years. Melody loved being a grandma. Myken Ann lovingly called her Nana. Papa and Nana cherished every minute with little Myken Ann. They would dance, sing, color, read, play games, shoot baskets, and play hide and seek. Mark and Melody loved their daughters and little Myken Ann more than anything in the world.
Melody was preceded in death by her Mother Ida Belle (Smith) Maher, Grandparents Rose and Wilfred Smith, Grandma Reva Maher, Great Grandparents Joe and Florence Freeland, Great Grandmother Ida Smith, and many treasured aunts and uncles.
Survived by her husband Mark Hackett, daughters Lyndsey and Taylor (Bryce Carpent`er) Hackett, Granddaughter Myken Ann, sisters Sherry (Calvin) Taylor, Holly Williams, and brothers Shawn and Dawayne Maher, her beloved teammates throughout the years, and special “daughter” Ashley Newcomer Moore.
USA Softball of South Dakota State Commissioner
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