James Lemuel Hatcher

Friday, September 11, 2020

On a beautiful warm evening just before the rain fell, James Lemuel Hatcher died peacefully in Pittsboro, North Carolina. During his last days, he was surrounded by his loving wife, Barbara June Hatcher (Crabill), his children, grandchildren, and loved ones — all telling him stories and playing his favorite songs, including Tennessee Waltz.

Jim (Dad, Papa, Lemuel) was born at home on August 12, 1935, in Hatcher Hollow, McEwen, Tennessee, to Dorsey and Ruth (Parker) Hatcher. He and his identical twin brother, John Landon Hatcher (JL and JL), authored the story of how they persevered from a small rural school to achieve admission into Vanderbilt University, obtaining an electrical engineering degree — sharing books while continuing to work to help support their large family. The book is titled “Going to Camp: A Memoir of Twin Boys Growing Up in the Post-Depression Rural South in a Large Family, and Their Quest for Education.” He then achieved his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University. Jim worked in electronics communications for many years, until retiring from Magnavox Electronics as Director of Engineering at the age of 56. He never stopped working or learning. He taught himself to become an expert woodworker, restoring and building countless furniture creations that now surround his loved ones. He also restored cars, became a sheep farmer, and even learned to cane chairs — starting with the saplings. He also became the volunteer chair of the Loudon County Community Services Board, helping to guide the effort in providing crucially needed mental health, disability and other social services. He was a true renaissance man, and his skills are too many to list. Because he rarely had the opportunity or money to possess good quality tools in his youth, he became a tool collector, restoring hundreds of tools to their original beauty and utility. Everything his did, he did for love. He never charged a dime for his woodworking or other skills, and he helped countless people in countless ways.

Jim made his best life decision by agreeing to Barbara’s proposal of marriage after she answered his question of what gift she would like for Christmas. They were married on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1962, during a magical snowfall in Gorman, TN. The ceremony was officiated by Jim’s father, Dorsey. During their 57 years of marriage, they raised three children, Pamela Sue, David James, and Daniel Landon, mostly in Fort Wayne, Indiana. During this time, besides childrearing, working, school, and projects, they hosted neighborhood bridge parties, played horseshoes, and became involved with Trinity English Lutheran Church. The family moved to Waterford, Virginia, in 1985, where they were surrounded again by wonderful neighbors, friends, and family. In January 2004, Jim and Barbara moved to Pittsboro, NC, where again, the community welcomed them. A typical Saturday for them was breakfast at Virlie’s Grill followed by a trip to the Habitat store to search for more old tools.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Dorsey and Ruth Hatcher, as well as siblings, Bethel, Mary Hazel, Ruby, Polly, Raymond, William Clifford, Sarah, Richard Parker, Virginia, and many beloved Crabill and Hatcher family in-laws. He is survived by his wife, Barbara June Hatcher of Pittsboro, NC; children, Pamela Hatcher Wallis (RJ) of Wenatchee, WA, David James Hatcher (Kella) of Cary, NC, and Daniel Landon Hatcher (Banafsheh) of MD/DC. He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren, Coleton David, Chase Wootton, Landon James, Raina Marie, and Ava Caterina. He is also survived by his siblings, John Landon Hatcher (Frankie) of Decatur, AL, Robert Hatcher (Donna) of McEwen, TN, Edwin Hatcher (Darlene) of Waverly, TN, Dorsey “Butch” Hatcher (Brenda) of Paris, TN, and Vivian Hatcher who still resides in the family home in Hatcher Hollow. Jim was loved by dozens of nieces and nephews who all hold him close to their hearts.

Jim always wanted to be a teacher, and, actually, he always was a teacher. His ripples will never end.

A memorial service will likely be held at a later time when the risks of COVID-19 have abated. His obituary can also be viewed on Donaldson Funeral Home at https://www.donaldsonfunerals.com/listings.

Stories, thoughts, and memories of Jim will be cherished by his family. The family wishes to sincerely and lovingly thank the community and medical caregivers who were part of his last journey. Jim was all about taking care of others. You honored him by the way you helped take care of him and us.

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to one of the following:

SECU Jim and Betsy Bryan Hospice Home of UNC Health Care. Memorial gifts can be made online at go.unc.edu/unchospice, or checks made payable to the Medical Foundation of NC may be mailed to 123 West Franklin Street, Suite 510, Chapel Hill NC 27516.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Chapel NC. Gifts can be made online at https://www.holytrinitychapelhill.org/giving, or by check mailed to 227 E. Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

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