Posts Tagged ‘J. Walter Hackman’

On behalf of our family, and the Montco Bible Fellowship family, extend loving condolences to you Mrs. Ruth Hackman, and to your children Rose, Becky, Jenny, Joe, and Libby, and to each of their families.  May our God, the God of all comfort and all sufficiency, be more than you need Him to be during this difficult time.

As a customer of Hackman’s Bible Book Store for many years I would like to share some of my experiences with you.

To begin, let me say that I find it helpful when I can associate the memory of a dear friend with portions of God’s Word.  In the case of my friend, Mr. Hackman, Acts 13:36 is the portion that reminds me of him:

“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and as laid with his fathers and saw corruption.” (Acts 13:36 ESV)

The portion “…served the purpose of God in his on generation…” reminds me of what I learned as a customer of Hackman’s Bible Book Store during the dash between 1973 (when I first met Mr. J. Walter Hackman) and 2012,  (when I said “good-bye” to him,  for now).

My wife and I first met Mr. Hackman in the spring of 1973, at Hackman’s Bible Book store.  He and I worked next door to one another; I was the pharmacist next door, and he was the owner of Hackman’s Bible Book Store.

Immediately, we discovered that we shared three common passions.  Love for God, love for His people, and love for “good” books.  Books share messages that meet needs and desires, and also speak to human hearts in ways that spoken words cannot.

For the next 39 years Mr. Hackman treated me and all his customers like true friends.  Today, because of his legacy, it is still a treat to go to Hackman’s Bible Book Store and to be treated as one of their special guests.

To me the text “he had served the purpose of God in his own generation” speaks of his impact.

His impact on me, through the lessons he shared, and the lessons I learned – not sitting in the pew, but as a customer standing in the aisle, are cherished memories.  Listening to, and observing this man of God in action was a gift.

His philosophy: Service is the rent he loved to pay for his stay here on earth- has always been my customer experience.

If you’ve ever been to Hackman’s Bible Book Store more than once, you know that you’re their favorite customer.  That was the impact of his ministry and life – the two were inseparable for Mr. Hackman.  Mr. Hackman taught so much without preaching, which has become powerful lesson for me, as I pastor God’s people.

He made a difference in my life and in the lives of countless others over the decades.  He showed all of his customers by how he served, that Hackman’s Bible Book Store was a ministry first, and then a business.

His service had a life changing impact on the many that he came in contact with.

Observing him in action was better than any education I could have received.  From short visits to his store I learned more than any university or seminary could offer.  The lessons were short teaching moments; to the point, and of high impact.

Mr. Hackman had the gift of offering the right book for the right ailment.  It was his Rx for what you had.

He had the joy of being used by God to transform lives without a pulpit or a missionary passport.

Also, Mr. Hackman was a keen student of people; he saw and treated all people as true image bearers of God.

He taught me that even though the “un-churched community” was diversified by culture, race, language, it was unified by common needs.  This community of discouraged, lost, and struggling people needed to find the Way, the Truth, and the Life in the person of Jesus Christ.

He also helped me appreciate that the “Church Community” (diversified by denominations, worship styles, and favorite traditions) shared common needs.  Whether they called themselves Baptists, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Methodist, Mennonites, Reformed, etc., they all shared the same spiritual problems of the heart – worry, lust, greed, anger, to name a few.  He tactfully offered solutions for these problems through books, Sunday school tools, Bible study materials, or understandable Bible translations.  With great skill Mr. Hackman pulled these remedies from his shelves, very much like a pharmacist would do with remedies from his shelves.

Mr. Hackman also had a unique way of combining wisdom, humor, and practical advice.  Some examples:

  •   “Why pray when you can worry?” was a memorable quote from him, which gives an accurate picture of too many lives.
  •  When Peterson’s “The Message” first came out many critics were against it.  During a private debate over this “new translation” in his store, Mr. Hackman didn’t chose sides, but said to me “Got a Minute?  Read this verse.”  It was John 1:14.  “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood…”  Since then this translation has been used in many sermons, mine and those of others effectively.  Truly, he was ahead of his time.
  •   Dale Carnegies’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” was a book which Mr. Hackman said and I quote “This should be in every church pew alongside the Bible and hymnal.”  He believed it would make a difference for the Christian community, for those living in it and for those outside looking at it.

To Mrs. Ruth Hackman, his treasured wife, and to his legacy of five beloved children and their families, I close with this thought from the text in Acts:

As with David, he (Mr. Hackman) fell asleep in the land of the dying, to awake in the land of the living with His Lord.

I say goodnight to a long time friend, and not goodbye.


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J. Walter Hackman, 88, formerly of Allentown, passed away April 21, in Souderton Mennonite Homes.  He was the husband of Ruth (Yoder) Hackman. They were married on June 10, 1944. He was the son of the late Joseph W. and Katie (Derstine) Hackman. He attended school in the Souderton School District and graduated from Eastern Mennonite High School in 1941. He was a salesman all his working life, even as a child, selling vegetables, pretzels, etc. from a push cart door-to-door in Souderton and Telford. He learned the butchering trade at various Philadelphia markets.

In 1947, he started BOOKSTORE TO YOUR DOOR, a truck stocked with Books, Bibles, Music and Gifts. This was the forerunner of what is now known as Hackman’s Bible Book Store in Whitehall. He was well known for his knowledge in selling Bibles, not only locally, but publishers were also aware of his experience and sought his advice.

From 1968-1970 he was President of Christian Booksellers Association, an international organization.  Also, in 1968 he received the Christian Bookstore of the Year Award. The Hackman’s were avid campers and for forty years they enjoyed a trailer in the Poconos at Spruce Lake Retreat with their children and grandchildren.  Three times they camped across the country. He was an expert at maneuvering his motorhome, even to Alaska. He loved fishing.

He was an active member of Allentown Mennonite Church for many years, starting the church’s first Vacation Bible School in a tent along with a camp program for city children. He conducted monthly prison services for 35 years at Lehigh County Prison. More recently he was a member of Swamp Mennonite Church.

Survivors: Wife, four daughters, and one son; Rose, wife of Glenn Martin, Barto; Rebecca, Wife of John Hess of Jonestown; Jenny, wife of David Fitting, Allentown; Joseph, Husband of Marcia Hackman, Emmaus; Libby, wife of Matthew Bauman, Quakertown. 11 Grandchildren: Lisa Stoltzfus, Rodney Martin, Shawn Hess, Andrew Fitting, Kevin Fitting, Joe Hackman, Elizabeth Kennel, Brian Hackman, Jason Bauman, Kyle Bauman, Jon Bauman.  6 Great grandchildren: Alex Rodriguez, Matthew Martin, Ryan Martin, Caleb Stoltzfus, Brandon Stoltzfus, Ila Hackman. In addition to family he is survived by two sisters, Verna Moyer and Dorothy Martin. He was preceded in death by Granddaughter Kim Rodriguez, Great Granddaughter Elizabeth Rose Stoltzfus, one sister Susan Moyer and two brothers, Linford and Wilmer.


Thurs April 26, 11 a.m., Swamp Mennonite Church.

2125 Rosedale Rd. Quakertown


Wed, April 25 6-8 p.m., Souderton Mennonite Home,

207 West Summit Street Souderton, PA 18964

Thurs, April 26 9-10:30 a.m. Swamp Mennonite Church


Swamp Mennonite Cemetery


Memorial Contributions:

The Gideon’s International, P.O. Box 3381, Allentown, PA 18106

Good Shepherd Home, 601 Saint John St, Allentown, PA 18103


Jeffrey A. Naugle Funeral and Cremation Service will be handling the arrangements.  www.janauglefcs.com

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The Hackman family has recently had some sad news; J. Walter Hackman has passed away to be with our Lord and Savior.  We ask you to please pray for the family at this time while we all remember the great man J. Walter Hackman and the spiritual legacy he left behind.

In the beginning….

“We moved up to Allentown to take over a small mission,” says J. Walter Hackman, who co-founded Hackman’s Bible Book Store with his wife, Ruth.  That was in 1947 when Hackman was a meat cutter in Philadelphia.  “A friend say, ‘why don’t you sell something for the soul instead of the stomach?,’ and that’s how we started selling books and Bibles,” he remembers fondly.

Within his Mennonite denomination, Hackman felt the call to service and moved, with Ruth, to Allentown.  While living in a third floor apartment on Sixth Street, Walter carried a basket door-to-door selling books and Bibles.  He eventually had a bread truck outfitted as a mobile bookstore.  With that truck, he covered a 70-mile radius from home, and that’s when Hackman’s Bible Book Store was born.

“I’d approach a home carrying a basket that had three tiers to it,” Walter says.  “On the top tier, I had non-religious items; in the middle, I had books, and on the bottom, I had Bibles.  As I approached, I knew what would be in the customer’s mind: ‘We don’t want any books today.’ But in my mind was, ‘What do you need today?’

This is actually a key insight into what has built Hackman’s to its present stature.  Walter’s focus, from the very beginning, was on the customers and on providing the customers with what they needed at that particular time in their lives.  Most often, that involved inspirational books and Bibles that had the ability to change people’s lives.

“‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he'” Walter quotes. “We tried to provide that right thinking through the books we sold and the Bibles we sold and the products we sold.”

The first bricks-and-mortar Hackman’s Bible Book Store was on Sixth Street in Allentown, right next to the mission they had come to foster.

“It started very slowly,” says Ruth.  “The bill for rent was $35, and a big day was $16.50 at the time.  And we were also paying someone to be in the store!”

All five of the Hackman’s children worked in the store as they grew up.  The store grew too.  “The Lord blesses with sweat,” says Walter.

With a full family effort, Hackman’s relocated to St. John Street, and then after 17 years in that location, moved to an even bigger store on MacArthur Road, where it stayed for another 17 years before the store moved to its current location at 1341 Mickley Rd. in Whitehall, now owned by Joe and Marcia Hackman.

We ask everyone to please share their stories about how J.Walter Hackman has touched their lives, and fond remembrances of him.  Please leave them in the comments section below.

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