Horst Hackemer

Psalm 91:4
He shall cover thee with His feathers and under His wings shalt thou trust.

Horst was born on January 10, 1940, at the beginning of World War II. His dad had already been drafted into the German army; Horst and his mom became refugees early on, escaping to the American zone at the end of the war. His dad rejoined them in 1949 after his release from a Russian prison camp in Siberia.

In 1952 they immigrated through Ellis Island to Chicago. Horst graduated from Luther North High School in 1958. He met Kathy at Carthage College; they were married on June 15, 1963. After graduation, they settled in Zion, IL, and a few years later relocated just across the state line to Kenosha, WI.

Horst first taught German and then moved to the administration at Zion-Benton Township High School, where he enlisted students to pass a referendum to build Horizon Campus which had failed twice previously.

In October 1981, Horst was disabled in an auto accident with a drunk driver. For the rest of his life, he experienced severe headaches and numerous other physical limitations. He also knew he had to find another way to support his family. From childhood on, Horst had been an “animal whisperer,” and now this inborn sense, especially with racing pigeons, came into play. He and Kathy developed a home business that bred and sold pedigreed racing pigeons to fanciers in the USA and eventually around the world. Horst was recognized by his customers and contemporaries for his honesty and knowledge. He amassed a consistent and excellent flying record, both in Kenosha and later in Spring Hill, FL. In 2015 the national organization, the American Racing Pigeon Union, awarded him the Breeder Elite Award.

In 2002, Horst and Kathy moved full-time to Spring Hill, FL, enjoying being a part of the pigeon community centered around the Gulf Coast Homing Club. It was difficult for him to travel, so visits from the family were always a highlight.

One of the after-effects of the 1981 accident was not being able to tolerate sound. Horst could not attend church services, Kathy’s concerts, his children’s programs, banquets, etc. His family saw his bravery every day as he offered laughter, conversation, and a “normal” face to the world in spite of the physical pain.

Horst had a special regard for Martin Luther. He carried a copy of “A Mighty Fortress“ handwritten in German in his wallet for years. His faith in Christ was unwavering and strong.

Horst is survived by his wife Kathy; his children Kurt and Susan Hackemer, Erika and Michael Willkomm, Elli and Tony Dai, Heidi Hackemer and Ty Montague; his grandchildren Jordan Dai, Jakob Willkomm, Anja Willkomm, Elena Dai, Luke and Anna Willkomm, Anna Hackemer, Julia Dai, Will Hackemer; and great-granddaughter Natalie Dai.

His love, pride, and support for his four children and their families were constant and solid. His ashes will be taken to his long-time Wisconsin home.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory to Camp Zion (campzion.com) or Cory’s Project (corysproject.com) would be appreciated.