Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 23, 2012

Friends, loved ones remember Hatcher

WAR — The flag in front of War city hall is flying at half-staff, and a black bow rested a few feet beneath the American flag as the community paused Sunday night to pay their respects to the family of the late Dr. Thomas C. “Tom” Hatcher, mayor of War, who was found dead in his home on July 17.

Mourners numbering well into the hundreds entered the sanctuary of Christ The King Catholic Church to share memories of Mayor Hatcher, or just to spend a few moments of fellowship — with most still finding the events of the past week almost impossible to understand.

“I was on city council when we appointed Tom to the council in 1995,” Manuel Collins said as he stood on the steps to the church exchanging greetings with friends. “Tom and I took all of those trips to Charleston together when we were working to get help for the city.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just don’t know.” Collins said that someone had asked him if War was still planning to hold its fall festival. “I didn’t know how to answer that question.”

R.C. “Skeet” Hyatt said that he planned to read a poem when Father Paul Manickathan opened the Wake up to comments from friends.

“Tom and I were in school together through seventh grade, but I didn’t finish,” Hyatt said. “After he came back, he encouraged me to attend a class reunion, but I told him that I didn’t think anyone would remember me. I dropped out of school to go to work. I got my GED, but I didn’t finish school with my class.

“Tom still encouraged me to come to the reunion,” Hyatt said. “I finally decided to go and the people there all remembered me. Tom had a way about him that would help you overcome the things you feared. He was like that to everyone.”

While people were bewildered, Hatcher’s friends had fond memories. “He was a wonderful person,” Herman Shrader said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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