Bridget Hanchette, co-founder and Vice President of Wisconsin-based distributor Identity Works, passed away on February 8, 2023 after beating brain cancer for nearly 14 years. She founded the company with her husband, Tom Hanchette, in 1996, and served as Vice President until the time of her death. Bridget focused on service and excellence in everything she touched, as she always wanted everyone to be treated right and have the best experience possible. She leaves behind three children (Benjamin, Adelyn, and Gretchen) in addition to Tom. A complete obituary follows.
The Hanchette family has committed to matching donations of up to $125,000 to City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, California. This medical institution played a pivotal role after Bridget’s initial diagnosis with a glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumor in 2009. The family is asking with all their hearts that family, friends, and business associates contribute to a research fund they have set up to try to find solutions and hopefully an eventual cure for GBM brain cancer with the amazing Dr. Badie and his team at City of Hope. Every dollar counts, so please contribute whatever you can.
A memorial service and celebration of life was held on Sunday, February 19 in La Crosse, WI.
Bridget Mary Hanchette, 58, of La Crosse, Wisconsin passed away on February 8th at the family home, surrounded by her family as she had been from the moment her cancer journey began.
Bridget was born in Madison, Wisconsin to Don and Marilyn (McCormick) Schaefer on April 4, 1964, and spent most of her youth in Madison sharing fun times on the lake with her family of seven kids along with numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. She went to high school in Belleville, WI when her family moved to the countryside where she met many new friends and started her lifelong love of horses.
Bridget attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where she graduated with a degree in Community Health Education in 1986. She began her post-college work at Meriter Hospital in Madison, later moving to Marquette, Michigan to work in cardiac rehabilitation at Marquette Medical Center and to join the love of her life, Tommy, in Marquette where they were engaged on Valentine’s Day in 1988. Bridget had met Tommy at college during their freshman year. Bridget and Tommy married on October 8, 1988, at St. Francis of Assisi in Belleville, Wisconsin. Bridget later worked for several years in the pharmaceutical industry for Allen & Hanbury’s, GlaxoSmithKline, and Marion Merrill Dow before taking a break to focus on raising their three children. In 1996, she cofounded Identity Works, a technology and merchandising/swag company with Tommy that is still going strong today where she served as Vice President and President before focusing on the wellness program the company implemented for its team. Bridget exceled at everything she touched and won numerous awards throughout her careers working for others and running Identity Works. Bridget focused on service and excellence in everything she touched, as she always wanted everyone to be treated right and have the best experience possible.
All the many accomplishments aside, there was nothing in the world that Bridget was more dedicated to than her role as a mother to her three children. From planning monthly field trips to nature centers, creating elaborate and well-thought-out birthday party themes, bringing her children to volunteer and entertain at nursing homes, and fun visits and care packages as adults, Bridget put the brunt of her energy into raising compassionate kids who never had to doubt the ferocity of her love for them.
After bravely and inspiringly beating a brain tumor in 2009, always being a giver to family, friends, and strangers alike; she decided to give back by volunteering at the cancer center at Mayo Healthcare System in La Crosse, Wisconsin. For several years, she expertly supported the nursing staff there and provided compassion, knowledge, comfort, and love to those whose journey she had walked and would walk again.
Bridget is preceded in death by her paternal and maternal grandparents, her parents Don and Marilyn (McCormick) Schaefer, her brother Gregory Schaefer, her sister Colleen Schaefer, and brother Timothy Schaefer.
Left to cherish her memories and carry on her legacy of love are her husband Thomas (Tommy) Hanchette, her children Benjamen Hanchette, Adelyn Hanchette, and Gretchen Hanchette; her sister Susie Fricano, her sister Peggy Schaefer, her brother Stuart Schaefer, and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
The family would like to thank Dr. Badie and numerous others at City of Hope whose skills and hard work allowed us to have Bridget with us for nearly 14 years after originally being diagnosed with GBM, an amount of time that unfortunately few with that diagnosis presently come close to having. They gave us the greatest gift of all, time spent together.
Many thanks also to Dr. Uhm and the wonderful staff at Mayo Clinic in Rochester who also contributed expertly and compassionately to Bridget’s treatments and care after the recurrence.
Bridget was an angel that spread happiness and joy everywhere she went. Truly a life well lived. She was so loved by many. Her pure compassion, gratitude, optimism, kindness, and ability to be present for everyone she met and in all situations was truly unmatched. She knew how to laugh easily and find joy and fun in every moment. As one family member so truly stated, “If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.” It was our blessing to receive her love and see the love she shared and that was reflected back to her by everyone she met along the way. Let’s all honor her memory by spreading unconditional kindness and joy like she always did.