Jack Hatcher is a Harlem fixture.
Many in Harlem knows Hatcher for his amazing and exciting stories about Harlem's history, and he is seen regularly walking his black Labrador retriever around town most mornings.
For his years of selfless contributions to the city's improvement, the Harlem Woman's Club named Hatcher their 2003 Citizen of the Year at a ceremony Thursday.
When Ann Blaylock moved to Harlem five years ago with her husband, Tom, she heard about Hatcher and all the things he knew and could do, she said during the ceremony.
She spent a lot of time with Hatcher driving around town surveying and cataloging the city's 270 historic buildings for the Historic Preservation Commission.
Jack Hatcher had his Harlem cabin moved eight miles from its original location.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"He started telling all the stories of Harlem," Blalock told the crowded Woman's Club. "I really enjoyed the stories of Harlem, the stories of the people who made Harlem what it is today. I really began to appreciate the stories.
"It was a pleasure to get to know somebody so tall."
She spent more time around Hatcher through the Pioneer Garden Club, where they are members, and the recent designing and planting of the Harlem Memory Garden.
Hatcher, a Harlem High School graduate and retired Fort Gordon controller, has served his community in numerous capacities including on the city's Historic Preservation Commission and assisting the Harlem Library and cemetery.
As the sixth recipient of the award, Hatcher joins former winners such as the Rev. Dave Sargent, Sue Whiddon, Francis Tracey and Sam Persley. Each winner is "roasted" by friends during the ceremony.
Hatcher admitted he was nervous about the roasting.
Roasters including E.G. Meybohm, Frank Scharite, Buck Story, Blalock and Sargent. They described Jack as a gentle spirit, outspoken and a man dedicated to the improvement and preservation of Harlem.
"I think Jack is totally worthy of this," Meybohm said of the man who people say never missed a Harlem High basketball game.
All roasters agreed that despite Hatcher's contributions and accomplishments, marrying his wife, Minette, was his greatest.
"Are we talking about the same Jack Hatcher?" joked Sargent as the last roaster. "He must have a split personality. I thought they were dragging the bottom of the barrel last year when they elected me. What part of the barrel did he come from?"
Joking aside, Sargent told the crowd Hatcher is appreciative, well-mannered and the epitome of a Southern gentleman.
"This year they got the cream off the top," Sargent said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.