Kenneth Roy Hatch

Published 8:27 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

Kenneth Roy Hatch died unexpectedly on Friday, March 8, 2024 in Lakeville, Minnesota. He was 81 years old. The second of three surviving children of Clyde Francis Hatch and Ruth Eileen Christiansen, Ken was born on 4 September 1942 in Algona, Iowa. Proud of his US ancestry, Ken was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution; grandson of Floyd Francis Hatch and Rebecca Marion Stratton, and Nels Christiansen and Caroline Hansen, he traced his paternal ancestors to 16th-century County Kent (and Cambridge), and his maternal line to early 18th-century Denmark.

Raised in a small midwest town, Ken was a collected soul with a calm but intense presence. During his earliest years on Ulstad Avenue, Kenny (‘Scratch’) Hatch spent his best time playing baseball, riding bikes, and ice skating with his friends: TC-Cottonballs, Rick Behr, Stir, Buttercup, Buns, Punky, and the brothers Tuerd (Big and Little). Known as ‘Toodly’ since birth, Ken was later called ‘Scratch’ by neighborhood friends, Baby Boomers who followed the train tracks out to Skunk Hill to play, to pick asparagus in Spring, or cut cat tails in Autumn. Friends traded comic books, played ball, and at midnight we stood to salute the flag with the national anthem until the TV signed-off. We ate Maid-Rites, sloppy joes, and countless green apples. Ken played in the ALHS marching band, lifted weights with Rick, and later in the ‘60s was a rock n’ roll drummer with the Sentiments (hyped by WDGY). In 1958 Scratch drove his black 1951 Chevy to the Kingsmen Car Club show at the downtown armory. An amateur painted ‘Frisky’ on the front fenders.

Dedication and hard work opened doors for Ken as an educator. After graduating from Albert Lea Central High School (1960), he entered Mankato State College (Minnesota State University, 1964-1970). His plans were clear but his future was not. Ken soon underwent life-saving open-heart surgery at Mayo Clinic. Dr. John W. Kirklin was his world-class surgeon, creator of the heart-lung machine. Without surgery, Ken’s life expectancy was 25. During recovery, family took turns visiting Ken, including his new girl friend, Lavonne Muller. Ken’s huge scar (the zipper) was two feet long; but Ken was soon climbing 3 stairs at a time-his lifelong trademark.

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Ken loved kids as much as he loved learning. After graduation (1964), while continuing graduate work, Ken taught 6th grade at Union Elementary. Hardworking and focused, he received most of his degrees (BA; MA; Ed.; U Minnesota) at Mankato, and was among the first to receive the MSU Specialist degree (1970). Well-regarded, Ken was soon promoted to school principal as his family continued to grow, with Kellie Kaye (1961), Michelle Marie (1966), and Tracy Lynn (1969). After memorable years in Mankato, the family moved to Elmore (1970-1973), Slayton (1973-1990), and finally, Countryside School at Edina (1990-2001). Among his best friends was Ken Knuth.

Over the decades, Ken’s administrative duties were interwoven with consulting projects and workshops, with Ken as CEO of SOS Seminars and K’s Educational Services (1975-2013). His Specialist degree (Educational Administration) also involved course work at the University of Minnesota with several publications, including Chances & Ideas. Among his state and national awards, Ken’s resumé modestly mentions his Distinguished Service Awards as Principal (1986; 1990; 1997); his Elementary School of Excellence Award (1989); and not least, his National Distinguished Principal Award (1984) celebrated in Washington, DC. During these eventful years Ken remained a devoted father, family man, and selfless caretaker for Clyde Hatch. And surely among his notable family legacies was creating the Blackwater Lake Home Trust (Longville). Ken’s huge Northwoods home overlooks Blackwater Lake. Ken was never happier than sharing his fresh air with the dancing loons.

Ken had established habits and enjoyable pastimes. Beyond his weekly saunas at the YMCA, he particularly enjoyed group gatherings for conversation, as well as private time to read, relax, and reflect. He always enjoyed sharing lunch and breakfast, whether walleye (Tavern on Grand) or the Big Pancake (B&B in Albert Lea)-eat your greens, Hatch Batch! He craved adventure. In London or Florence he never hesitated to explore alone. In personality, he sometimes spoke sparingly but was always an engaged listener. Ken knew who he was; he never aspired to the trappings of bourgeois success, and he learned to laugh along with Lovey-Dovey. Always attuned and accepting, Ken was gracious and kind. He was authentic.

Finally, we must admit that Ken was not perfect. Unlike some family members, Ken did not smoke, drink, cuss, or swear-but he did enjoy gambling, and yes, he had an addiction to Mountain Dew! In his defense, Ken claimed Blackjack taught him about financial risk and improving family investments. When asked what Hatch family virtues needed attention — discipline, dedication, dependability? Ken said: forgiveness.

Ken was preceded in death by his parents, Clyde and Ruth Hatch (Lakeville); his infant older brother, Larry Lee Hatch, Curlew. Ken is survived by his wife, LaVonne Hatch, Lakeville; 1 sister-in-law, Cynthia Muller, Farmington; 3 daughters, Kellie & Ken Lewis, Lakeville; Michelle Hatch, Eagan; and Tracy & Jeff Davis, Apple Valley; 2 brothers, Jerry & Linda Hatch, Great Falls, Montana; Robert Alan Hatch & Sue Heflin Woolsey, Dunedin, Florida; 2 nephews, Mark Daniel Hatch, Billings, Montana, and David Matthew Hatch, Billings, Montana. Ken’s family includes 11 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren.

Final arrangements included a Remembrance Service and Celebration of Life in Apple Valley, and family members will a have private scattering of ashes. Family and friends may wish to make memorial contributions to the “Ken Hatch Memorial Fund” for students who have a passion for teaching elementary students.