The Hanna Perkins community is mourning the loss of our dear friend Elaine G. Hadden.
Known to all as Lainie, she died on Friday, Sept. 20.
Hadden was one of Cleveland’s great philanthropists – a discerning and generous donor who enthusiastically supported institutions in which she believed. She is credited with helping to save Playhouse Square in 1972 when, as the president of the Junior League, she led the campaign to raise money that prevented demolition of the State and Ohio theaters, and was an active force in their rebirth.
According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, that was also the year she became the first woman to serve on the board of a major local bank (Union Commerce). Two years later she was named the first female chair of the CWRU Board of Overseers. Her name appears on the honor roles of institutions large and small across Northeast Ohio.
But Hanna Perkins Center for Child Development always held a special place in Lainie’s heart. Her children attended what was then known as Hanna Perkins Nursery School. And her husband, John A. Hadden Jr., a prominent Cleveland psychiatrist, had a long connection with Hanna Perkins, which Lainie continued to nurture after his death in 1994.
She had served on the Hanna Perkins board of directors from 1969 until about a year ago, providing support and guidance as the organization evolved.
In a 2011 interview with Cleveland Magazine, she said, “I think going to Hanna Perkins made my children learn empathy…. More than anything, people want to be understood. That’s how Hanna Perkins makes children feel…. My husband believed it was the best nursery school in America.”
Based on her years of commitment to Hanna Perkins, Lainie believed it too.
On the 60th anniversary of Hanna Perkins’ founding, Hadden herself was honored at a gala banquet for efforts on behalf of Hanna Perkins and the children it has served over the decades.
In 2014, the Hadden Award was created to honor others who followed in Lainie’s footsteps by wholeheartedly supporting the social-emotional development of children in Northeast Ohio through the services and programs offered by Hanna Perkins Center.
On Oct. 5, 2019, Lainie was scheduled to join us once again to celebrate this year’s recipients of the Hadden Award.
Lainie Hadden was a force that made us better, and a presence that made our work possible. We are saddened by her loss and will miss her deeply.