The celebration of life for Ralph Hatch held on Saturday Dec. 1 brought together family and friends to reflect on a life well lived. Growing up in Seward during the 1940’s, the “Hatch House” was my second home. Judy, (Julia) Ralph’s youngest sister, and I were close friends. The Hatch House was located on the southwest corner of Third and A Street and it still stands today. My home was on property located at the north end of First Avenue., close to First Lake and the base of Mount Marathon.
Annie, Ralph’s Mother, gathered her family and I off to the Methodist Church – now Resurrect Art – where she managed to keep us all in line with a stern look or a tap on the head. We walked everywhere — too and from downtown Seward and back and forth to school. When it was cold and the north wind howling, a stop at the Hatch House to thaw out, was necessary.
Our playground was centered around First Lake, Mount Marathon, and school – all just a few yards from our homes. Ralph, Jesse, and Judy, the Hatch kids, along with my Brothers, Jack and Dale, plus neighborhood and town kids enjoyed the freedom to enjoy and explore our surroundings. Ralph and Jesse were so athletic in that one would think they were Hawaiian, with their diving and swimming abilities. Jesse saved me from a near drowning incident at First Lake when in a panic, I about pulled him under the water. He was so mad at me, along with both of our Mothers, that I was banned from the Lake until I learned to swim.
Natural musical talent was also a part of the Hatch family. When Ralph and Ann married, it was just natural they shared their musical talents at both the Methodist Church and at musical events throughout the community. Over the years Ralph and I would greet each other at the Post Office or public events. He was into names and told me of a recent birth of a great grand-daughter named Eva, which was my Mother’s name. The best story was when he was training for the Marathon. Carol – first born of Ralph and Ann’s five children — was wrapped up and put in a back pack and off he would go up Marathon. Then Barbara came along, so he would put both girls in the back pack and up Marathon he would go. When Arne came along, Ralph said he couldn’t quite manage three kids. I suspect rather than leaving someone behind, he would just dispense with what was surely an adventure for the girls.
Ralph came from humble beginnings and was a legend in the Mount Marathon Race, winning six races, and helping to put the race on the national and world scene. I feel a sense of loss when people I grew up with pass on. My sympathy to the Family; wife, Ann; children Carol, Barbara, Arne, David (Pete), Betty, and Ralph’s extended family and friends. He was a quiet legend to many.