Troy mourns death of friend

Published 8:40 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nolan Hatcher’s death on Tuesday caused many people in Troy to reflect on the life of a man, for whom there are only good things to say.

“Nolan Hatcher was the kind of human being of whom Mark Twain said ‘You should lead your life in such a way that, when you come to die, even the undertaker will be sad.’ That was Nolan Hatcher,” said Milton McPherson. “ He was an upbeat, wonderful man and an absolutely solid citizen.”

Hatcher and Johnny Long have been friends since he and his wife, Willetta, came to Troy more than 20 years ago.

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“Nolan was the kindest, most caring person I have ever known,” Long said. “He spent his entire life doing nice things for other people. He was always doing for others. Always. Nolan did more for people than anyone knows. He was so thoughtful of others and he really did spend his life doing for others. He was one of my very best friends and all of us who knew him will miss him.”

Long said Hatcher was instrumental in the establishment of an international student program at Troy University.

Curtis Porter, associate vice-chancellor for International Affairs at Troy University, said Hatcher was really the person who got the international program started at Troy University.

“Nolan and Willetta – you can’t say one without the other – opened their hearts and their purses to the international students,” Porter said. “He and his family are, in so many ways, responsible for the great success that we’ve had with the international program. His door has always been open to the international students. Even after his retirement in the late 1980s, he continued to be involved. Just a few years ago, he and his wife gave money toward the renovation of the International Center and he was always involved in the annual luncheon for the international students and worked in every way possible to bring the community and the international students together.”

Rhea Swisher, retired Troy University history professor, met Hatcher when the two of them were teaching in the Troy University master of science programs in Europe.

“He was very interested in bringing foreign students to Troy University,” Swisher said. “Nolan was an intellectual individual and one of finest people you could ever know.”

Grady Post knew Hatcher as a colleague at Troy University but got to know him as a friend through the Men’s Sunday School Class at First United Methodist Church of Troy.

“In Sunday school, we could sit down and talk about things other than professional things,” Post said. “Nolan was not a moody person. You never encountered him when he was down or sad. He was always optimistic, cheerful and friendly. He always had a smile and was always the same. If anything was bothering him, you never knew it. He was a happy and outgoing person.”

The Rev. David McVay, pastor of First Methodist, said Hatcher was a pillar figure in the Men’s Sunday School Class in participation and leadership.

“When Nolan Hatcher said good morning or welcomed you, he was truly resilient in doing so,” McVay said. “He had a lot of energy and a wonderful spirit about him. He was very committed to his beliefs. But, I’ll never forget his welcome. It was so compelling and so filled with good feelings for those around him. Nolan Hatcher is one who will be greatly missed.”

Originally from Oklahoma, Hatcher was retired from the Air Force and joined the Troy University faculty in 1974. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Abeline Christian University, a master’s of education from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate of education from Auburn University.