Special to the Tribune
Before Chip and Joanna Gaines opened Magnolia Table in Waco, Texas, there was a restaurant called Elite At The Circle Café where Doris, a single mom with a precocious son, waitressed for $8 a week plus tips. That precocious boy was Chanute’s very own Wayne Hatcher.
While Wayne and his wife, Martha, have lived in Chanute for a short time, moving here in the fall of 2016, they have already made a positive impact on the community. Wayne likes Chanute for its friendliness, its rural feel, overall culture, values and housing. He also looked at the hospital and high school as a benefit, as well as being close to daughter Jennifer, son-in-law Steve and grandkids Addison and Ryan in Monett, Mo.
Wayne was a gifted athlete growing up in Waco, along with Martha. The two started dating at age 15 and have been married for 48 years. Track and Field was just one of the many sports in which Wayne excelled, running a 4:11 mile. He earned an athletic scholarship in track and field at Howard Payne University, then earned an academic scholarship so someone else could have his athletic scholarship.
Wayne and Martha’s first home was an old army barracks, so drafty that the curtains would move on windy days. Earning his Master’s degree, Wayne became the Resident Hall Director for Baylor University, and eventually became Dean of Students at Baylor. Jennifer swam with the Baylor Baby Bear Cubs at the university.
Wayne furthered his education, earning a PhD in Higher Education and Leadership. His education career started in Texas, but took him to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas. He was Vice President of Student Affairs at Labette Community College in Parsons, where he lived for 10 years before making his home in Chanute teaching American Government and History at the Chanute High School at the college level.
New Year’s Day was celebrated on the slopes of Colorado taking college students on skiing trips. Steamboat Springs and Wolf Creek Pass are Wayne and Martha’s favorites. Travel would also find the Hatchers in Vermilion, Ohio, looking out at the endless waters of Lake Erie. They have also enjoyed the breathtaking views of Niagara Falls and traveling back to Texas to visit Martha’s family.
While Wayne was an elite runner, their son Eric followed in his footsteps and he was awarded many cross country and track honors including All-State recognition. He competed in the Texas Relays as well as running the Boston Marathon in just over three hours. Academics were also important to Eric, and he was a member of the National Honor Society. He received a scholarship from the University of Tulsa, transferring to Boston University for his sophomore and junior year. Unfortunately, even with his athletic background, Eric was not as healthy as they thought. He graduated with honors at Pittsburg State University after suffering a stroke that would only be his first. Due to declining health, Eric withdrew one semester short of receiving his degree from Ozark Christian College, and on November 1, 2018, Eric went to be with the Lord.
Wayne’s goal in education was to help students stretch themselves while teaching students to be successful and to believe in themselves. Wayne credits the Lord for directing his path to higher education.