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HATCH, Robert M.

HATCH - Robert M. Formerly of East Aurora and Colden, died November 10, 2018 of age-related causes at his home in Punta Gorda, FL, surrounded by four generations of his family. He was 92. A veteran, educator, mentor, true friend and the lover of a good joke, he will be deeply missed by all who knew him, especially his family. His was a life well-lived. Mr. Hatch was born in Portville, NY, on May 24, 1926. The middle son of longtime Portville residents Reuben and Hattie Hatch, he played baseball, football, and basketball for the Portville High School Panthers and graduated in 1944. He started classes at Alfred University that fall but joined the United States Army in Buffalo in October, 1944. He went overseas following basic training as a member of A Company, 114th Infantry, 44th Division, and served in France, Germany, and Austria in the U.S. Seventh Army. For his service, Mr. Hatch earned an Eastern Theater of Operations (ETO) Ribbon with a Campaign Star, an Army of Occupation Ribbon, a Victory Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, and his Combat Infantryman Badge. He was on leave in the United States, prior to the Seventh Army's scheduled participation in the impending invasion of Japan, when the war ended. He was mustered out of the service in 1946 at Fort Sheridan, IL, as a sergeant. Mr. Hatch returned to Alfred that fall and graduated in 1950 with a degree in History. He earned his MA in Education at St. Bonaventure in 1952, and later took Guidance and Administration classes at Canisius College and Syracuse University. As an Alfred freshman, he reconnected with Betty Jo Champlin, a childhood acquaintance from nearby Ceres, NY, in their English Civilization class. His childhood friend, Dick Champlin, a cousin of Betty Jo's, encouraged him to "look her up and take her to the Interfraternity Ball." The rest is history. They were married in Portville on July 10, 1948, and began their life together in veterans' student housing, living in a 15-foot trailer with electricity, but no indoor plumbing. They were in step through the years from that point on. They celebrated their 70th Anniversary earlier this year. They have three sons, Steve (Laurie), of Delray Beach, FL, Brooks (Margi), of Corvallis, OR, and Mark (Jane), of Mahopac, NY. Mr. Hatch taught and coached at Portville High School for several years before moving to East Aurora for the 1955-56 school year. He taught English, coached junior varsity baseball and basketball, and directed the adult education program, before becoming an EAHS administrator in 1968. He moved from East Aurora to Colden in 1974, and retired from EAHS in 1985. He relocated to Punta Gorda in 2001 and enjoyed many years playing golf and tennis, and socializing at Lakewood Village until his health began to fail several years ago. Mr. Hatch loved his role as the proud "Boompa" to grandchildren Elizabeth Fenn (Andy), Katherine Nelson (Craig), Travis Hatch (Jenn), Emily Hatch, and Owen Hatch, and to great-grandchildren, Sophia Steffan, Nicky Steffan, Fiona Fenn, and Sloane Nelson. He was preceded in death by his parents, and by his brothers Gene and Don. A passionate baseball fan, he passed his love of the game on to his children. Decades of loyalty to the Chicago Cubs were rewarded in 2016 when they won their first World Series Championship in 108 years. His 1994 Father's Day weekend trip to Wrigley Field was a lifetime memory. He enjoyed skiing, tennis, golf, reading, and was never happier than at reunions of his far-flung family at his Colden home during Reunion Weekend, on Sanibel Island, or in Punta Gorda. He was a co-founder of the Aurora Arsenals Soccer Club, one of the earliest members of the Woodsprings Swim Club, a Mason, an Elk, and a brother in the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Mr. Hatch belonged to the First Presbyterian Church of Portville, the Baker Memorial Methodist Church in East Aurora, and the Colden United Methodist Church. Service arrangements are undetermined. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his memory to Charlotte County (FL) Meals on Wheels, or to Alfred University.

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