Laura Lyman Hackett, previously Laura Boutilier, was a writer of poetry, textbooks, poetry and stage plays, creator of newsletters and organizations, a talented actress in Santa Barbara Repertory Theater and other community drama groups, and acclaimed writer-director of the local popular musical reviews “Slings and Arrows. ” She was the matriarch of a large and devoted family.
Laura married Clyde Boutilier of Stoughton, Massachusetts, who she met when he worked in a Conservation Camp near Cummington. They had their three children while living in Massachusetts, and journeyed to Santa Barbara right after his World War II Navy Service. Laura taught English and literature at Santa Barbara City College during the 1950s.
She and Clyde Boutilier divorced after 20 years, and in 1959 she married Fred Hackett, an attorney, her husband until his death in 2007. Fred and Laura had dated decades earlier in their college years. When she married Fred she moved to Long Island, New York, and began the English Department at Suffolk County Community College, and later became Dean of Instruction. New York was just developing Community Colleges of a type then well established here in California. During her two decades of academic administration and leadership the school grew from nothing to two campuses with close to 20,000 students.
Laura’s birth mother died at childbirth in April 1916 in Kentucky; Dr. Eugene and Bertha Lyman adopted her when he was a professor of philosophy and religion at Oberlin College and the Oberlin School of Theology in Ohio. Bertha Lyman died young so Laura’s father and grandmother raised Laura. They lived in upper Manhattan during the school year as Eugene taught at Union Theological Seminary. She loved wonderful summers in the Berkshires of Massachusetts in the village of Cummington where the Lymans had lived for generations. When she was a 6th grader her father married Bible scholar Dr. Mary Ely Lyman, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, known to family and many students as “Merrily.” Laura and Merrily delighted in the loving mother–daughter relationship Laura had long sought. Laura attended Carlton, graduated from Smith College, and later received her graduate degree from Occidental College. Merrily held professorships at Union Seminary, Sweetbriar and Vassar Colleges.
She was passionately devoted to maintaining a broad circle of deep friendships built up over the decades from each portion of her long life. The Lymans were Congregationalists. Laura affiliated with the Santa Barbara Unitarian Society and previously with First Congregational United Church of Christ.
Laura Boutilier Hackett passed away May 26, 2011, at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California, at the age of 95. She lived in Santa Barbara from 1946 until 1959, and at The Samarkand Retirement Community in Santa Barbara from 1980 until 2010. She was a leader of numerous programs and activities and a friend and colleague of many residents during her nearly 30 years at The Samarkand.