13 March, 1949 – 21 October, 2020
Mary (Ricks) Hatch, 71, of Fort Wayne, died on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. She was born on March 13, 1949, to Charles and Marcile (Brookshire) Ricks of rural Ossian, Ind. She attended Ossian School for twelve years and was a member of the last class to graduate from Ossian High School in 1967. Among her childhood memories were the gatherings of her extended family, which included eleven of her parents’ siblings, their mates, and more than two dozen first cousins. Also remembered with great fondness were the many farm animals, cats, dogs, and her own pony. Mary also became active in 4H, Girl Scouts, and her church. As a latchkey child, she formed a particularly close relationship with the family television. Later, Mary perfected the skills connected with baton twirling and performed in that capacity at Ossian High School for three years. She also became the first female graduate of the Reppert School of Auctioneering in 1966. However, it turns out that her uncle, Herb Ricks, inspired her most with his successful career in chemistry. Mary entered Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University) in 1967 and after two years transferred to Huntington College (now Huntington University) in order to pursue a career in science. Buttressed by additional class-work at IPFW, she graduated from Huntington in May, 1971, with a degree in Analytical Chemistry. That milestone, however, followed another one. In April, 1971, she married Richard (Dick) Hatch and moved to Fort Wayne. Mary had been working her way through college, serving as a waitress at the downtown Azar’s Big Boy when Dick came in looking only for a cup of coffee. But, in addition, he found his perfect life partner. After graduation, Mary became part of the Product Quality effort at Central Soya in Decatur, Ind. and worked there for about two years. Seeking a position closer to home, she then went to work at Fort Wayne’s massive General Electric complex. There, her work gradually started to turn from Product Quality to Environmental Health and Safety. In 1980, while working at GE, Mary became the proud mother of a baby girl named Brooke Allison, and learned quickly how to balance parenting and a full-time career. That career changed direction again in 1982 when GE had to lay off a number of employees including Mary. She then found work for a couple of years at A&L Great Lakes Agricultural Laboratories, moving on again to ITT Aerospace Optical where she remained for the next 25 years. Nearly all of Mary’s work at ITT involved Environmental Health and Safety, particularly in the area of corporate compliance. Mary served on multiple hazmat teams and maintained her status as a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager. Her retirement from ITT occurred in 2010, at which time she started to place more emphasis on a wide range of personal interests. From the time of her parents’ road trips to visit relatives, Mary had loved to travel. She eventually visited all 50 states, making at least six repeat visits to Hawaii. Although inspired to see all of the continents, only Australia became a reality – that in celebration of her and Dick’s 25 wedding anniversary. Along with Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean, Mary managed to reach the one destination she had desired since the fourth grade: Iceland. Mary continued to allow her faith in Christ to have the predominant place in her life, with strong ties to The Wesleyan Church. She was a fifth-generation Wesleyan and a descendant of a denominational founder. She attended the Bluffton (Mulberry Street) Wesleyan Church in her youth, and Three Rivers Wesleyan Church (Fort Wayne) throughout her adult life. Other consuming interests included the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and the collection of antique medical books. Ultimately, TV-watching returned as a favored pastime, but she enhanced that with the simultaneous completion of crossword puzzles. Perhaps those two were early signs of the cruel disease which eventually robbed her of many mental and physical capabilities. Known as FTD (Frontotemporal Dementia), Mary’s illness was diagnosed in 2017, but suspected a few years earlier. There is no major research organization for FTD, although the Alzheimer’s Association does offer some investigation and support. Mary’s survivors include husband Dick, daughter Brooke Calderon (Christopher) and granddaughter Persephone. The family is especially grateful to the Cleveland Clinic for Mary’s diagnosis, to her family doctor, Melissa Walther, for her wise and compassionate guidance, and to two other entities which have offered effective support. Those are the Hearth at Sycamore Village, and Eleos Hospice Care. In addition, many friends from church, former workplaces, and distant locations have made special efforts to ease this difficult time for Mary and her family. Immediate arrangements are being handled by Elzey-Patterson-Rodak in Waynedale, but a public celebration of Mary’s life will be delayed until such time as the current pandemic permits safe gatherings.