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James M. Hatfield Sr., outdoorsman and active Mason

Jan. 2, 1930 – Nov. 25, 2015

James M. Hatfield Sr., an active Mason who was known as Santa Claus by students of North Collins Elementary School, died Wednesday in his Eden home. He was 85

Born in Gowanda, Mr. Hatfield attended a one-room school in Collins Center and was a 1948 graduate of Gowanda High School. He also was one of the first graduates of Erie County Technical Institute, which later became Erie Community College.

Drafted into the Army in 1951 during the Korean War, he served in Germany as a corporal in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Recently, he was honored for 60 active years in the Masons, receiving the Sublime Degree of Master Mason, which was awarded in Fortune Masonic Lodge 88 in North Collins.

He was known for playing the role of Santa Claus for many years at North Collins Elementary School.

An outdoorsman, Mr. Hatfield spent many years managing a forest on his property. He enjoyed cutting and splitting wood, riding his six-wheeler with his great-grandson Ollie and trips to the casino in Erie, Pa.

Mr. Hatfield was married for 65 years to his college sweetheart, the former Wanda H. Steeves.

Survivors also include a son, Dr. James Jr.; two daughters, Deborah A. Yancey and Cynthia Koener; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in Eden United Methodist Church, 2820 E. Church St., Eden.

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