Andy Hatley was born in the small city of Okolona, Arkansas near Gurdon on Saturday, February 10, 1928. He was one among the 10 children born to Jim Hatley and Lucinda McNear. His parents taught him that a good name is more desirable than great riches and is better than silver and gold. He attended school in Okolona and enjoyed learning. He missed many days of school to work and be supportive of his family.
He was baptized as a little boy and was a life-long member of Shady Grove Baptist Church until its closing. He served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher and superintendent. He later united with Mt. Canaan Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Johnny Harris and served as a deacon. He also served as past Worshipful Master.
Andy met the beautiful and soft-spoken Christine Bell and a true love story began. They were united in Holy Matrimony on Saturday, May 17, 1947. They made their home in Beirne, Arkansas on land gifted to them by his father-in-law. God blessed them with twelve healthy children. Andy and Christine shared a 71-year love story filled with ups and downs, good and bad days, as well as, love and laughter. They were inseparable. He supported all of his children through their education and made many sacrifices to ensure that they were well educated.
He was no stranger to hard work and taught his children that nothing in life is free; hard work pays off. He worked as a bus driver and mechanic for the Gurdon Public School District. By the time of his retirement, he had worked 42 years. He believed in being on time and when his own children weren’t ready for school, he would simply drive off.
In addition to being a hard worker, Andy was a family man. He enjoyed the simple pleasures that life offered. He was a strong supporter of sports and an avid sportsman. He was the biggest fan of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He always expressed his dislike for cheating referees. His hobbies included farming; he raised sweet potatoes, peas, corn, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, cabbage, beets, and turnips, as well as, hunting.
A true highlight of his life was growing sorghum cane and producing sorghum syrup. This became a family affair when his children were young. Every year over an October weekend his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would come home for the sorghum harvest and make the syrup. This family tradition brought the family together and celebrated the farming roots of the Hatley family. The harvest is not a commercial venture and the syrup is not sold. Mr. Hatley would send his syrup from California to New York and around the world. There was always guest when the Hatley’s made syrup. Neighbors, friends and strangers would come to observe and learn how to make the syrup.
The pinnacle of his farming career was when the Hatley family was selected as the Clark County Farm Family of the Year for 2012 by the Clark County Farm Bureau. Asked how a family has stayed so close when the children have so many different careers and live all over Arkansas and beyond, Mr. Hatley said the group has had time to work out the little things he called the “nit-picking stuff. Now we all get along with each other.”
His life was rewarding, full, and blessed. On Thursday, October 25, 2018 he slipped the bonds of this life for a life in eternity. His independent spirit, iron will, and strong character will never be duplicated, but leaves an impression on the lives of those he touched and enriched along this life’s journey.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his siblings, Christine Beard, K. T. Hatley, Eugene Hatley, Rebecca Hatley, William Hatley, Jim Hatley, and Erma Buford.
A lifetime of love and memories will be forever remembered by his wife: Christine Hatley; his children, Charles (Edna) Hatley of Gurdon, Andy (Shirley) Hatley of Russellville, AR, Hazel Irene (James) Fingers of Palastine, AR, Donald (Carolyn) Hatley of Arkadelphia, AR, Larry (Rosetta) Hatley of White Hall, AR, Maurita (Rickey) Macon of Gurdon, AR, SFC (R) Earnestine Hatley of Gurdon, AR, Sandra Hatley of Warren, AR, Col. Marcus (Sandra) Hatley of Sherwood, AR, Katie Hatley of Bryant, AR, Gerald (Tammy) Hatley of Hot Springs, and SGM (R) Gerard Hatley of Ft. Carson, CO; two brothers, Leonard (Eloise) Hatley and Fred Hatley.
He also leaves a powerful legacy of twenty-four grandchildren, thirty-three great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren, as well as, a legion of nieces, nephews, and an innumerable number of cousins and several friends.
Public visitation will be Friday, November 2, 2018 from 12 noon until 2:00 p.m. at Williams Funeral Home. The family will greet and receive friends from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at Mt. Canaan Baptist Church. A celebration of his life will be shared at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 3, 2018 at the Cade Auditorium- Gurdon High School. Mr. Haltey will lie in repose one hour prior to the servivce time. Interment will be at Shady Grove Cemetery in Beirne, Arkansas.
Active pallbearers will be his grandsons Brannon Hatley, Andy Hatley II, Charles Beard Jr., James Fingers Jr., David Otwell, Sylvester Joe Brewer Jr, Kenard Pegram, Stephen Hatley, Marcus Ray Hatley, II, Allen Michael Tatum, Vince Hatley, Gerard Hatley, II. and his granddaughters, Emily Hatley, Christi Nelson, Monica Hatley, Jessica Rainey, Madison Hatley, Laphenetra Allen, Tisha Hatley, Tonelli Hatley, Lynette Hatley, Laurae Hatley, Destiney Ellis and Olivia Hatley.
Honorary Pallbearers will be Don Smithpeters, Bill Wright, Larry Gore, Wade Allison, Mark Karnes, David Williams, Sam Hardwrick, Danny Hart and the Men's Sunday School Class.