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Plane Crash Kills Russell Hackler of Grove Way Veterinary

The Castro Valley vet was the only passenger when his home-built plane crashed Friday.

 

Dr. Russell Hackler, known to Castro Valley residents through his work at Grove Way Veterinary Hospital, died Friday when his home-built plane crashed near the Calaveras County Airport, according to a report in the Contra Costa Times.

The family have been notified. Hackler, 68, lived in Danville.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Hackler was flying alone when the crash occurred.

If you knew Dr. Hackler through his veterinary work or his flight hobby and would care to leave a memorial, please use the comments.

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Debbie D November 28, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I was so saddened to hear of the lose of Russ. I will never forget when he offered to hire me in passing at another vet, the timing was perfect and it was as if he knew it. We shared our love of snauzers and were always sharing funny stories about our own snauzers. He diagnosed my Katie and cried with me when he told me I had to put her to sleep, his compassion was always so genuine! I will miss his caring ways and smile. My heart goes out to all the family Debbie D
Fred November 28, 2012 at 05:18 AM
It is difficult to believe that such a wonderful human-being has passed in this way, and the only comfort I have, is knowing that he was doing what he loved to do. As a vendor for the veterinary clinic for 14 years, I enjoyed our little chats we shared between his client-appointments. He loved the jokes, and he always seemed to find time to chat. We talked about planes, scuba, horses and triple-crown events, and current events, and he always showed an honest effort to share his witty-thoughts. I imagine he must have been thought of as a friend by all who had met him, because he was so easygoing. He will fly with the Angels now, I am sure of it. Prayers to his family.
Diane Zappettini November 28, 2012 at 08:23 AM
Diane Zappettini I am devastated about the untimely death of Dr. Hackler. What a wonderful compassionate man I can't say enough about him. He not only loved and had compassion for animals but he had compassion for people as well. I had an incident where I barely knew Dr. Hackler and my Rottweiler Samson had to be admitted in the hospital. I had made the comment that I wished I could stay with Sam since it was an unmanned office and no one would be there at night. Dr. Hackler allowed me to stay the night at his practice. I stayed five nights with my beloved Sam and I am forever grateful To Dr. Hackler. Dr. Hackler even gave me his home number just in case anything went wrong in the middle of the night. I did have to call him at 5 AM because Sam was not doing well and was dying in front of me. Dr. Hackler walked me through some procedures to make Sam comfortable I am forever grateful that Dr. Hackler allowed me to stay with my Beloved Sam. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I am so glad to have known such a wonderful caring and compassionate human being. Now Heaven has an angel who is now joined by so many furry friends that are surrounding him and loving him back. God bless you Dr. Hackler, I will never forget you and all that you have done. Diane Zappettini Hackler I will never forget yowould say to me don't cry.
Esther Ho November 28, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Esther Ho Dr. Hackler shared my joy with my first Rottweiler Finesse at 10 weeks old, and also shared my sorrow when he came to my house to put him to rest 11 yrs later since Finesse couldn't make it to the clinic. Russ's compassion was truly reflected in his tears. Five years later he came again for my Rottie, Tracer. I last saw Russ on Oct. 16 this year. He was proud to tell me that most vets would sedate my labrador rather than using a local method. We also shared our common concern about the lack of compassion and love in some pet care.
Akiko November 28, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I did not know Dr. Hackler personally, and it's apparent he was quite a man. I am sorry for your loss...
Marcella Schantz November 28, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Dr. Hackler was a wonderfully kind and gentle human being. In the past 15 years that we have known him, he has helped our family with many ups and downs with our animals. He always went the extra mile and gave every animal and client his full energy and attention. He also had a wonderful sense of humor and a story for each situation that came up. There will never be anyone else like him. I remember the story he told us of his trip to Africa with his wife and friends, it made him so happy to travel and fly. He lived life to the fullest, and it is some comfort to know that he felt so fulfilled. And yet, it feels like he left this world way too soon. We will miss him greatly, and so will our cherished pets. Many condolences to his wife, children and grandchildren, our thoughts are with you. Sincerely, Marcella Schantz and Family.
Jerob Leaper November 28, 2012 at 07:17 PM
To this point, I have truly struggled to write anything down about this tragedy, as I am still in shock. Dr. Russell Hackler meant a great deal to me in my life! From letting me see his practice and follow him around when I was 18 years old (still figuring out if I wanted to be a vet) to letting me do my veterinary school externships at Groveway, to hiring me on as an associate veterinarian to selling me his beloved veterinary practice. The list of things he has done and the opportunities he created for me are endless, like so many other people. I am not sure if I was really ever able to fully explain to him how truly grateful I was for all of these blessings and opportunities. I can only hope that he knew how much he meant to me and how forever in his favor I will be. All I can do is to look forward and work to preserve the legacy he build over his 40 + years in the veterinary community. His loss leaves a large gap for his family, Groveway Veterinary Hospital, the East Bay community and the veterinary community as whole, one that will never truly be filled. There was and always will be only one Russell W. Hackler! You touched so many lives and will be missed by so many. Rest in peace Russ! J Leaper
Peggy Hahs Roberts Dvm November 28, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I first met Russ when I applied for a job while still a senior in veterinary school. He hired me to work in his satellite clinic in Dublin with Tina. I remember him being warm, supportive and always making me laugh. I learned so much about being a veterinarian from him. 30 years later I still approach surgeries with confidence, something I learned from him. I think of him often when I have a large mass to remove. He just went in and started cutting. He was never timid. My staff is always amazed how fast I am in surgery and I credit Russ's teaching for that. Whenever I made a mistake as I did frequently in my first year he was there to support and reassure. I have always been grateful to him for that. He was extremely generous in his business dealings as well. He set a high standard that few people can live up to even though I think he was unaware of how much integrity he had. I remember him working tirelessly on a computer program for his clinic before anyone else was computerized, testing surgical staples for the local hospital when everyone else thought he was crazy. He was always on the cutting edge of technology in our field. There are few as intelligent and have as much vision as he had. Even though I haven't seen him in years his tutelage is with me every day in how I treat my clients, staff and patients. Russ you will be missed!!!
Victoria November 29, 2012 at 12:02 AM
I began to bring my animals to Dr. Hackler when I realized he donated flights to our schools auction. My thought was if a local business was supporting the school, then we should support the local business. He was a great vet and loved to fly. We would often talk more about his flying then we would about the dog LOL. I still have a certificate for a flight with him that I won at our school auction. I never got around to using it. We have lost a good man. Blessings to his family
Karen McCartney November 29, 2012 at 12:13 AM
I am so very sorry. He was my horse vet when I moved to Palomares Road 15 years ago. He had such a way with horses. He saved my Rottweiler's life a year ago by amputating her back leg. When there wasn't any hope for her he promised if he got rid of her leg she would be out of pain and would live a full life. My dog, Val does everything any other dog could do. She still chases the horses, runs up and down the stairs and plays fetch. He will be truly missed.
Spencer Keiser November 29, 2012 at 04:12 AM
I didn't really know Russ personally but my girlfriend Debbie worked for him for years and I feel I know the kind of man he was through hearing about him for so long. The contact I did have with him came from when my Airedale Dillon got hit by a car. I brought him up to Groveway and Russ didn't hesitate to give him the surgery he needed and then a second one later. And finally when Dillon's kidney didease made him too sick to go on it was Russ that helped us at that time, the hardest part about having a dog. He has affected the lives of so many people, even some he didn't know very well. He's flying with the eagles now. My thoughts are with his family. Spencer Keiser
Russell W Hackler Jr November 29, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Victoria, I would love to honor your flight you had scheduled with my father. Please call 510-816-5641. Sincerely, Russell Winston Hackler jr
Lisa S November 29, 2012 at 11:09 AM
I don't know if this is in poor taste but I was wondering since I cannot make it to the memorial - if there will be a way to visit his grave - or if he is not being buried....I have had so many medical problems I think the trip may not be doable for me this moment but I want to say goodbye to him personally too....please let me know and I'm sorry if this hasn't been decided...I just have to make a decision before the memorial and I'm in tears thinking about it >< I will miss him so much...
Carlanne Giese November 29, 2012 at 07:21 PM
To Lisa, I would like to attend his memorial as well, so you are not alone in your request for a good-bye in person - if at all possible. So many wonderful stories of such a beloved person. Russ will always be remembered fondly.
Sybil Murray DVM November 30, 2012 at 09:14 AM
Russ hired me in 1986 at Grove Way, and he helped develop me into a confident veterinarian. As Peggy (my classmate) said, he was there to help with humor and encouragement. He was a kind man, a happy man, and a much-loved man. He developed a practice that will stand for years. He died doing what he loved, which is all any of us can hope for. He was my mentor and my friend. I will always remember him laughing, talking with his many friends, just being Russ. Thank you for being there when I needed you, and letting me care for your clinic when you were away. I learned so much during the 9 years I worked there. RIP Russ. Sybil Murray, DVM
Patti Houk November 30, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Patti Houk Our condolences go out to Kathie and the family. Russ was truly one of a kind in everything he did. He was our horse vet until he specialized more in small animals. Our youngest daughter had the chance to donate time to the clinic and learn about what it takes to be a veterinarian. Today she is a practicing equine mobile vet in the foothills. Thank you for the early encouragement we will miss you.
Lori A Carpenter, DVM December 01, 2012 at 06:41 AM
Lori A Carpenter, DVM Just came Russ' memorial...what a vibrant and fabulous person in so many ways! The world is a much better place because of him, so incredibly generous with his time and finances, so charming, so talented, so knowledgable about so many things, so adventurous.....He positively affected so many groups of people and tens of thousands of animals....Truly the most generous and giving guy I have ever known and he will be sorely missed by everyone lucky enough to be touched by his presence ....He left behind a fabulous cherished family and legacy, did thousands of free/discounted surgeries over the decades, monthly donation runs to Mexico for doctors without borders for decades, a great friend, mentor and father/grandfather to so many (blood and non blood)... He lived life to the fullest and appreciated family and friends most of all, he truly was a rich man, in every possible way... Great photos and memorial hosted by his family... Our loss is so very very sad... We could all afford to strive to be more like him and the world would be a better place, let us pay it forward in tribute to dearest Russ....irreplaceable and forever in our hearts!
Lori A. Carpenter December 01, 2012 at 06:44 AM
Just came Russ' memorial...what a vibrant and fabulous person in so many ways! The world is a much better place because of him, so incredibly generous with his time and finances, so charming, so talented, so knowledgable about so many things, so adventurous.....He positively affected so many groups of people and tens of thousands of animals....Truly the most generous and giving guy I have ever known and he will be sorely missed by everyone lucky enough to be touched by his presence ....He left behind a fabulous cherished family and legacy, did thousands of free/discounted surgeries over the decades, monthly donation runs to Mexico for doctors without borders for decades, a great friend, mentor and father/grandfather to so many (blood and non blood)... He lived life to the fullest and appreciated family and friends most of all, he truly was a rich man, in every possible way... Great photos and memorial hosted by his family... Our loss is so very very sad... We could all afford to strive to be more like him and the world would be a better place, let us pay it forward in tribute to dearest Russ....irreplaceable and forever in our hearts!
Renee Spisak December 01, 2012 at 06:59 AM
Renee and Marty Spisak Our thoughts and prayers to Kathie and the family. We have known Russ for almost 12 years and I (Renee) had the pleasure of working with Him for 4 of those years .There are so many great things I remember about him. I was always eager to learn from him as he was a great teacher. He was a great listener and compassionate. He always had a joke or a story to share. He has taken great care of our pugs Hamlet and Ophelia their whole lives. We had to call his cell a couple of times in a panic because Hamlet injured himself or was not acting right and he was always there. Thank you for being there for us. We will miss you.
Carlanne Giese December 01, 2012 at 07:51 AM
So sorry to have missed the memorial! I hope to think that everyone was quite heart-warmed, yet bitter-sweet in their shared final farewells to Russ. I concur with the lovely thought (above) of paying it forward as a tribute. What a wonderful legacy to be shared for our combined future.
Jennifer Johnson December 03, 2012 at 07:03 AM
I am so heartbroken to loose Doctor Hackler :( He has been my vet for over 8 years. He was a wonderful, kind man with a warm smile. He was the only one I would see, even if he was out of town, I would wait for him to return so that I could have my ferret and cat seen by him. Even in the worst pet situations he knew what to say to put me at ease. He considered cost and told me to call his cell if it were after business hours when my beloved ferret went ill and had reoccurring problems. He was so knowledgable and you could tell he loved his job! He was an awesome man! Me and my furry pals will miss him dearly :(
DPM December 06, 2012 at 10:18 PM
I worked for Dr. Hackler back in the 70s and early 80s as a vet assistant. I have many fun experiences to remember during the time I worked at Grove Way. Dr. Hackler was a very kind man that made everyone feel comfortable. I am very sorry to hear about his passing and I feel very blessed that I had a chance to know him. He will truly be missed.
DPM December 06, 2012 at 10:19 PM
I worked for Dr. Hackler back in the 70s and early 80s as a vet assistant. I have many fun experiences to remember during the time I worked at Grove Way. Dr. Hackler was a very kind man that made everyone feel comfortable. I am very sorry to hear about his passing and I feel very blessed that I had a chance to know him. He will truly be missed.
Ralph Holcombe December 15, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Lost but never to be forgotten. The finest person and Vet we ever had. We go back to his first days with Dr Mcclung. A special person with a special place in hearts and memories Ralph and Ardus Holcombe
Leslie C December 15, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Dr Hackler was for my family and our beloved dogs an angel here on earth! Rest in peace Dr. Russ, you will be deeply missed and always remembered.
Janet Magnoni December 19, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Everyone is unique, but some people are more unique than others. This about sums up the marvel that Russ reflected on all of us. My deepest condolences to Kathie, Win, and all the rest of the family and friends. My heart is with you.
ed December 19, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Doc Hackler was very nice man and he will be miss. I been bring my dogs to groveway close 11 years and felt happy with his service. I will alway remeber Doc Hackler. My dog is 11 years old and I am very hapy he is still here alive with me. My dogs will think about you.
Richard Whipple January 05, 2013 at 05:41 AM
I just heard the bad news about russel,He was awonderful human being and a true humaniterion in every sence of the word.Russel and his I just got the bad news about russel, and let me say that he was a wonderful human being and atrue humanatierian in every sence of the word.several years ago when I lost my parents Russel and his wife Kathie were were there to help me through some very hard times and I dont know what Id done without them. A few years earlier Russel saved my cats life when he fixed his badly broken leg, I was so greatful to him , and I still have that cat today thanks to Russel. Isure wish I could return the favor and save his life now. But I cant. I will miss him very much and I shall think about him often, and I will never forget his kindness. Rich Danette and Chelsie Whipple
Michel Devost February 23, 2013 at 10:49 PM
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Kathie Hackler March 02, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Its been a little over three months and on behalf of the family I wanted to reach out to all of the people who have said such nice things about him here on the Patch and also in the memorial book at Grove Way. Also thanks to Drs. Leaper and Moffatt for helping me through this difficult time tying up lose ends with the practice, giving Annie my beloved schnauzer her shots and their reaching out to the Grove Way Community to help my grandaughter Amanda collect donations for Sulphur Creek as part of her class "Caring Project". The outpouring of condolences, help and warm memories from everyone has been amazing.

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