Thursday, February 6, 2014 —
The Red Cross Town Council will soon appoint someone to fill the vacancy left by the sudden death Saturday of 66-year-old Dicky Hatley, but Mayor Larry Wayne Smith said Monday that Hatley simply can’t be replaced.
“I don’t think people realize how intelligent he was,” Smith said of the man he described as a “super, outstanding fellow.”
“He took care of planning and zoning, and you could ask him anything and he would give you an answer,” Smith said.
“He could quote the statutes to you.”
Planning and Zoning Board member Lou Eubanks called Hatley a “quiet, unassuming, brilliant man.”
“He didn’t talk a lot, but when he said something, it was worth listening to,” Eubanks said.
“When I heard he had passed away, I said, ‘I hope he willed me his brain, because I am sure going to miss it.’ ”
Eubanks said she would never forget a meeting shortly after Hatley had been appointed to the Planning and Zoning Board in early 2007, when she was flipping through her ordinance book, trying to locate the exact wording of a rule. She said Hatley leaned over and quietly suggested she turn to a particular article under a specific section, which was the exact one she needed.
When Eubanks responded with amazement that he knew precisely where it was, she said he passed it off as “having just happened to have seen it while looking up something else.”
“I think he had had his ordinance book maybe a month, and he already knew exactly where everything was,” she said.
“He was a real asset on the board.”
Eubanks said even after being appointed to fill the unexpired Town Council term of retiring Heath Hahn in February 2012, Hatley remained helpful with zoning.
“He was the Council liaison to the Planning and Zoning Board, so we could pump his brain at each meeting before he went back to the Council,” Eubanks said.
“He was a good friend and a straight shooter,” she added.
Though friends knew him as Dicky, Hatley’s full name was Richard Martin Hatley. He died at Stanly Regional Medical Center Saturday after a brief illness.
“I think I can speak for all of us that this is a shock, and he will be missed for a long time,” said Aloma Whitley, Red Cross town administrator.
“He was very intelligent and insightful; his knowledge was an asset to the town.”
Hatley’s trademark beard and love for Harley Davidson motorcycles will be remembered in Red Cross as will his intense dedication to the town that was incorporated in 2002, and was his lifelong home.
Having grown up on a dairy farm, Hatley found his niche repairing motorcycles and owned and operated Harley Enterprises at his home just off N.C. Highway 24/27 for more than three decades. He became interested in town government and regularly attended town meetings even before having a role in planning and zoning or on the Town Council.
“He has always been involved and interested in the town and the progress it was making,” Smith said.
“That was one reason we chose him for the Council. He was so good at what he did.”
Hatley was unopposed for re-election in 2013 and was sworn into office on Dec. 9 for a four-year term. Smith said he was unsure when the Council will name someone to fill his slot. The town’s next regular meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday.
Meanwhile, the funeral for Richard "Dicky" Martin Hatley is set for 3 p.m. Sunday at Freedom Biker Church on U.S. Highway 74 West in Monroe. He is survived by his wife, Beverly Sue Barbee Hatley of the home.
Luanne Williams is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.