Friday, August 7, 2009

Former Bellevue mayor Halbert Hatch dies at 101

Longtime resident worked as a rancher, miner and ski-ticket puncher

Express Staff Writer

Former Bellevue mayor and longtime Sun Valley Co. ticket-puncher Halbert "Hobe" Hatch died Monday, Aug. 3. His children say he will join his loving wife of 75 years, Inez, who passed away in 2002.

"My father was still dancing in his 90s," said his daughter Faye Barker, who lives on Gannett Road south of Bellevue.

"He was a very loving parent. Full of joy. He loved to tell jokes," Barker said. "We asked him once what his secret was for living to such an old age. He said, 'When you breathe, remember to breathe back in.'"

Hatch was born in Licking, Mo., on Nov. 30, 1907. At 17, he came to stay with his brother in Jerome, Idaho. He met Inez Wyckoff, and they were married June 9, 1927, moving to Stanton Crossing, where they lived for one year before moving to California, where Hatch worked in the oil fields for two years before returning to the Wood River Valley in 1930.

The couple then leased the Hill Side Ranch near Timmerman Hill. The first ranch he purchased was in 1938 on Baseline Road, and they stayed there until 1946 when they moved to Bellevue, where he ran the Bellevue Hardware store for several years. He also worked in the Triumph Mine, the sawmill below Bellevue, and he was the maintenance man at the Hailey Hospital from 1960 to 1972, from which he retired—well semi-retired.

He then worked as a ticket puncher at the ski lift at Sun Valley for 10 years.

"He loved that job," said his son Bob, who is in the valley this week from Yuma, Ariz., where his parents wintered. "But I think his favorite job was ranching. He often related back to the days he was raising registered Hereford cattle.

"He had a puzzle for us that went like this: If you had $100 and chickens cost $50 each and turkey's $10 each and ducks $3. How would you spend the money to come out at exactly $100. The answer was 94 chickens, five turkeys, and one duck. As far as we know, that's the only way to do it."

His father, whom many called "Hobe," liked square dancing at the Hailey Grange Hall with his beloved Inez, as well as fishing, bowling, motorcycling, camping and hunting. In 1938, he went to Ohio and won doubles in the national trap-shooting competition. At 98, he decided to finally give up bowling.

Hatch was a Bellevue city councilman and served one term as mayor of Bellevue. He was active in the Masonic Lodge and the Odd Fellows and Rebecca lodges. He was grand master of the Odd Fellows lodge for the state of Idaho. He also served on the Blaine County School Board, and served as grand marshal for Bellevue Labor Day Parade. While their sons were young and in the Scouting program, Halbert was instrumental with other Scout leaders in building Bellevue's first youth center.

Inez was one of the pioneers in the school lunch program after the Civic Club started it in Bellevue. She worked in school lunch programs for 26 years, the last five years as supervisor of the Blaine County School Lunch Program. She then cooked at Sun Valley and Blaine County hospitals. When Inez wasn't busy cooking something, she kept herself busy crocheting doilies and afghans or making craft items.

Hobe Hatch is preceded in death by his wife, Inez; two sons, Gene and Max; and one great granddaughter, Alexis. He is survived by his son, Robert Hatch (Lydella), his daughter, Faye Barker (Pat), 11 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

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