Lillian Margaret Syverson was born on April 10, 1915 on the family farm in rural Enderlin, ND to Albert and Inga (Bratten) Syverson. As a child, she attended a small country school and then continued her education at Enderlin High School where she graduated in 1933. She then focused on her academics at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Lillian excelled in many of her classes, rigorously pursuing degrees in English and Drama. Later, she completed her post graduate studies at the North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, and Moorhead State College.
Lillian returned home after graduating from college and helped to care for her parents. During that time, she also taught English and Dramatics in the Pingree, Casselton, Wahpeton, and Enderlin high schools until 1940. She had the gift of touching the minds of her students; she did not simply teach, but inspired her students to grow and learn. Lillian took this gift to Wahpeton, ND where she taught at the high school until she met the love of her life, Roy Hackney. The couple began their life together on November 30, 1945 and made their home in Fargo. Lillian spent the next 12 years raising their two children, Gary and Sharon.
She returned to teaching in the classroom in 1960, this time at the North Dakota State University. She taught there for three years before returning to Wahpeton to serve at the Wahpeton Jr. High School as an English and Drama teacher. Continuing her conviction that teaching was more than lessons and homework, she sought to inspire, enlighten and motivate her students to help make the world a better place. Lillian was a tireless, dedicated professional and spent her time planning and directing many plays, life lessons, and character-building activities.
After officially retiring in 1980, she continued to teach English as a Second Language in the Wahpeton and Breckenridge schools for several years. Lillian was also involved in the North Dakota Teacher's Retirement Association, Concordia C-400, and NDSCS-300 Club. Lillian was filled with life, and at the age of 74, she taught herself to swim, an activity she enjoyed for many more years. Among her many talents and accomplishments, she also enjoyed sewing, playing piano, sports, and traveling. She and Roy embarked on several excursions and toured many countries in Europe, Canada, and all of the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska. She was also a member of the American Lutheran Church where she worked and volunteered her time in the Sunday school program for a number of years. She was active in her church and had a servant's heart, one that beat for the Lord. Lillian was one woman, but she impacted the lives of everyone she encountered, from senators, mayors, and students, to strangers who would quickly become dear, lifelong friends. She left a legacy of servitude, enthusiasm, and selfless love that will never be forgotten.
Lillian is survived by her children, Dr. Gary (Mitzi) Hackney of Wichita, KS, and Sharon (Dr. Mark) Johnson of Chelmsford, MA; seven grandchildren, Terrin Hackney, Amanda Hackney, Brent Ealey, Traci Grieve, Michael Olson, Paul Johnson, and Matthew Johnson; and seven great-grandchildren, Hayden, Daxtyn, Alexis, Jacob, Kalee, Tyler, and Brianna; and one great-great grandchild, Natalie.
Lillian is preceded in death by her husband of 47 years, Roy Hackney; her parents, Albert and Inga (Braaten) Syverson; her siblings, Alfred Syverson, Clarence Syverson, and Bertha Syverson-Berger.