WILMINGTON — Our wonderful and loving mother, Dorothy Bonner Hatcher, joined her Lord and her husband, Sam, following a brief illness and stay at Lower Cape Fear Hospice. She was 96 years old.
Nana was a remarkable woman who embraced life with a real zest and a sense of joy. We have enjoyed many stories from her youth that involved bicycles, boyfriends and their cars and occasionally playing hooky to catch a young Frank Sinatra’s performance in New York City. Even with these escapades she was, for the Sisters at St. Michael’s Catholic School, the “apple of their eyes.”
Dorothy was born on Oct. 27, 1920, in Jersey City, N.J., where she attended St. Michael’s, graduating with a goal of becoming a nurse. This she accomplished by becoming a registered nurse following her three years of study at Jersey City Medical Center’s School of Nursing. How fortunate her children are that she met the love of her life, Dr. Samuel Hatcher, as they were both practicing their professions at the Medical Center.
Shortly after their marriage in 1942 and Sam’s service with the Army Air Corps, they moved to Morehead City, N.C., where Sam opened his practice as a general practitioner specializing in OB/GYN. As a native of Mt. Olive, N.C., Sam spent numerous summers on the coast. A move to Morehead seemed natural for him, but considering 1940’s small-town North Carolina, it presented a serious adventure for Dorothy, a real city girl.
Dorothy thrived in her new environment; however, raising her family and learning to cook “southern” with some early coaching by her husband. In no time, she became the quintessential Southern Lady. Her sense of style, generosity, kindness and ease around strangers … soon to be friends … served her well and led to many interests as her love for the south grew to be both deep and long-lasting.
She raised her four children, Lorraine, John, Lindsay and Sam Jr., in a warm and loving home filled with many fun memories and shared experiences. Trips to the beach, boating, picnics, ballgames and journeys up Highway 301 to New Jersey taking in historical sites and museums were the norm. She was a very active member of St. Egbert’s Catholic Church in Morehead, even as it grew from a mission parish to one which included its own Catholic School.
Dorothy was the ultimate mother and homemaker; however, with Sam’s untimely death at 48 years old, she unpacked her nurse’s cap and re-entered the workplace. Her dedication to others eventually led her to focus her talents beyond nursing. She developed the Health Occupations Program at West Carteret High School, teaching for seven years and sending many students on their way to promising careers. Not many teachers then drove an Oldsmobile 442 with a maroon racing stripe.
Branching out a bit, she was the house mother at Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority at UNC Chapel Hill. At Carteret General Hospital, she directed the candy-stripers and adult volunteer programs, served as the Infection Control nurse and established and managed the hospital’s gift shop.
She was an avid Bridge player, a founding member of a club that met regularly for over 50 years. Golf was one of her favorite pastimes as member of the Morehead City Country Club, playing into her 70’s. Later, you could always find her watching golf on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. She was also active in the local Garden Club. Dorothy finally retired at 75 after being convinced to move to Wilmington to be near her daughter, Lorraine.
In 1995, her move to Wilmington got off to a quick start by her helping to coordinate the construction of her new home. Her time in Wilmington was always special, but she still managed to get to Morehead for frequent Bridge games and catching up with friends. She hosted her Bridge club at her new home several times with the ladies arriving in a stretch limousine … the talk of the neighborhood no doubt. Dorothy was also an active member of St. Mark Catholic Church volunteering with the Ladies Auxiliary.
Dorothy loved so much in her life, but nothing came close to her expressed love for her husband and her children. She never remarried after Sam’s passing and considered her children to be the very center of her life. Our family returned that love, and we feel blessed to have had such kind and giving parents.
Dorothy was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Mildred Bonner; Sam, her husband; sister, Mildred O’Connell; and her daughter-in-law, Diane Carraway Hatcher.
Members of her family now living include her daughter, Lorraine Mason, and her husband, Jon; son, John Hatcher, and his wife, Pat; and daughter, Lindsay Smith, and her husband, Wes and their children, Sam Hatcher, and his wife, Carol, and their children. She is survived by seven grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and their families; and three great-grandchildren and four step-great-grandchildren. Dorothy always maintained a loving relationship with her New Jersey family, which includes Laurel and Pete Danchisko, and their children, and Tim and Rozanne O’Connell, and their children.
A private family Mass will be celebrated at St. Mark Catholic Church with interment in Oleander Memorial Gardens, both in Wilmington.
The family would like to express its grateful appreciation to the staff at Champions Assisted Living and the Davis Rehabilitation Center, both of the Davis Community in Porters Neck. A special thanks to the staff and volunteers at Lower Cape Fear Hospice, Wilmington. So many others reached out and gave of themselves during our mother’s recent journey, but, in particular, we would like to mention Deborah Davis and Shebra Johnson.
The family requests, that in lieu of flowers, we would be honored for memorial donations to be made to the Lower Cape Fear Hospice or The Employee Fund at Champions Assisted Living, The Davis Community, Porters Neck, both in Wilmington.