The world lost a compassionate, loving, insightful, and brilliant soul on Monday, November 4th, 2019. He was a husband, a Father, a grandfather, a teacher, a therapist, a friend. He was a lover of the arts, a world traveler, a brilliant conversationalist, and the best listener I have ever met. And he was my Father.
Howard Hatfield was born on May 2nd, 1935 in Kenova, West Virginia. He came from very little and managed to create a life that was full of purpose and would impact many people. As a child, he and his friends would go to the nickel movies, where the show would open with newsreels from WW II, and then move on to classic westerns staring one of his favorite cowboys, Gene Autrey. Perhaps that was where his dreams were first nurtured to imagine a world beyond his small town.
In the meantime, he thrived in his hometown. He played basketball and football at Ceredo-Kenova High School, and starred in several plays with the Thespian Troupe. He loved to run, and always wished his school had had a track team. I once asked him what he did in the Summer as a boy, and he said, “Well, we ran everywhere. To our friends’ houses, to the pool, playing ball, we just ran. It’s how we got around. And I loved it.”
The year following high school graduation, and throughout his college career, he worked at many different jobs to put himself through school. He attended his beloved Marshall College in Huntington, W. Va, from 1953-1959 where he majored in English, Speech, and Drama. His first teaching job was in 1959 at Mansfield Senior High School. He had found his calling. He loved to teach, he loved his students, and they loved him. Counting his good fortune at being able to do what he loved, I heard him say more than once to my Mom, “Can you believe I get paid to do this?” He went on to teach for the next 30 years, mainly at Malabar High School from 1965 - 1989. His “Great Books” class was sought after by many students, and to this day my family and I still hear from former students about how much they loved his classes.
One of the things that made him such an exceptional teacher, was that he continued being a student throughout his teaching career. He received his Masters Degree in Administration in 1967 from Ohio State, and returned once again in the early 80’s to study and became a licensed professional counselor. After retiring from teaching for Mansfield City Schools in 1989, he worked as a therapist in private practice at New Directions. He also began teaching part time at Ohio State University, Mansfield, for the next seven years.
No sharing of my Father’s story would be complete without a chapter dedicated to the great love story of Howard and Josephine Hatfield. They met in the Summer of 1961, were married three months later on November 18th, and were together 58 years. She was a nurse and he a teacher and therapist. Their jobs reflected who they were, and my Mother still is… people who care for other people, and are the healers of the world. They travelled the world together, and walked thousands of miles together… literally.
They were walking the neighborhoods of Woodland in Mansfield before it was a popular thing to do. And it became their thing. Everyday, no matter what, they walked their course of 3.5 miles. Beautiful Fall days, hot Summer sun, rain pouring down, sub-zero temperatures, none of it mattered… they walked. It was their time together, their meditation on life, and as my Father called it, “Our positive addiction.” My Mother walked my Father through his final journey of Alzheimer’s. It was a long journey of almost 19 years, but she was there every step of the way.
There is nothing my Father loved more than his family and the rich friendships he nurtured throughout his life. His Mother, Ann Murphy, and his cousin Faye Keyser, both of Kenova West Virginia, were the building blocks of his childhood and both proceed him in death. Carrying on his spirit in this life are his beloved wife Josephine Caponiti Hatfield, his pride and joy, son, Dr. Mark Hatfield of Columbus, Ohio, and daughter-in-law, Amy Hatfield, and their children Luke and Olivia Hatfield, all of Columbus. His daughter, and partner in crime, Stefanie Hatfield Salzmann of Sterling Va, her husband William Salzmann, and their children, William and Isabella all from Sterling, Va.
A special thanks to Mansfield Memorial Nursing Home for the loving care and kindness they gave to my Father and my Mother as they navigated this unforgiving disease. Donations in Howard’s memory can be made to The Alzheimer’s Society or to the Mansfield Art Center.
Friends may call Friday, November 15, 2019 from 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Ontario Home of Wappner Funeral Directors, 100 South Lexington-Springmill Road, Ontario. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, November 16, 2019, at 11:30 a.m. at The First Congregational Church of Mansfield.
Words of comfort may be expressed to the family at www.wappner.com.