A.P. “Jack” Hatcher, businessman and entrepreneur, of Pinehurst, NC, died peacefully at home on February 5, 2015, surrounded by the family that he loved.
Born in Ripley on March 21, 1928, the son of Ruby and Alton Hatcher, Jack was educated in the Ripley public school system, active in athletics and the first and youngest, Eagle Scout in his hometown. In high school, Jack was captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams. He attended the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., where he was catcher on the varsity baseball team, after which he transferred to Mississippi State University and graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1949. He received a master’s degree in structural engineering in 1950 from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Jack’s business career spanned more than 50 years, and the building and construction area was the great interest of his life. Over the course of a career in both public and private companies, he had the opportunity to create, lead and restructure many companies, most in the pre-engineered metal building and construction industries.
After college and a stint as an engineer with the Atomic Energy Commission, Jack co-founded Varco-Pruden (Pine Bluff, Ark.) which eventually grew to become the second largest manufacturer of pre-engineered metal structures in the United States. After serving as president of Varco-Pruden for 16 years, the company was sold to Dominion Bridge Company Ltd. of Montreal, Canada, and Jack became president, Chief Operating Officer and board member of Dominion Bridge and its subsidiary, AMCA International. After his years with Dominion/AMCA, Jack pursued the acquisition and turnaround of various businesses with his friends and former colleagues, including Southern Pump and Tank Company (Charlotte, N.C.), McKenzie Forest Products (Springfield, Ore.), Eagle Ventures (Pinehurst, N.C.), Inland Southern Company (Cullman, Ala.), and Magnatrax Corporation (Atlanta, Ga.), serving as chairman during a turnaround before the company was sold to NUCOR (Charlotte, N.C.). Jack also left an active retirement to serve as chairman and chief executive officer of H.H. Robertson Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., and its successor, Robertson-CECO Corporation, a global building materials company, after overseeing the merger of the two companies.
Jack’s other lifelong devotions were furthering entrepreneurship for engineers and helping others. In 1999, he created and endowed the Jack Hatcher Chair for Engineering Entrepreneurship program within the College of Engineering at Mississippi State University (MSU), one of the first of its kind nationally. He was named Alumnus of the Year in 2001 for the MSU Engineering School; and served on the MSU Foundation Board of Directors and the College of Engineering Dean’s Development Council. He served on many corporate and charitable boards, including the National Bank of Commerce (Pine Bluff, Ark.); Aviation Group (Raleigh, N.C.); National Association of Manufacturers (NAM); Sandhills Community College Foundation (Pinehurst, N.C.) 2006 to the present); the SUMMA Group at Sandhills, and FirstHealth Foundation (Pinehurst, N.C.). He was appointed by President Richard M. Nixon to serve on the National Advisory Council for Vocational Education (1968); served as general chairman of the South Park Jamboral for the Boy Scouts of America (1989); and on the Wake Forest University Board of Visitors and Parents’ Council. He served as a former Board member and chairman of the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) and was formally recognized in a Proclamation by the MBMA Board in 2012 for his lifelong contributions to the growth and advancement of the metal buildings systems industry. He was active in supporting and sponsoring programs for the charitable organizations Canine Companions for Independence and St. Francis of Assisi Service Dog Foundation; an elder in the Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Southern Pines, N.C.; and co-founded the Jefferson Preparatory School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He served in the Army Air Corps with the 844th Engineering Battalion during the Korean War.
Jack was a member of the International Young Presidents Organization (YPO); Country Club of North Carolina (Pinehurst, N.C.); Pinehurst Country Club (Pinehurst, N.C.); Oakmont Country Club (Pittsburgh, Pa.); The Duquesne Club (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Rolling Rock Club (Ligonier, Pa.); Eagle Point Country Club (Wilmington, N.C.), and a former member and past president of the Pine Bluff Country Club.
On December 27, 1951, Jack married his high school sweetheart, the former Nell Howell, who was the love of his life, his greatest supporter and his partner in all of his travels and endeavors for 64 wonderful years. In addition to his wife, Jack is survived by his four children, Tere Smart (Felix), Altheimer, Ark.; Barbara Jones (Andy), Atlanta, Ga.; Jack Hatcher Jr. (Nina), Southern Pines, N.C.; and Hayley Dettor (Page), Pinehurst, N.C. He is also survived by his grandson, Felix Smart (Sarah Beth) and their sons, Felix and Peyton of Whitehall, Ark., and his grandson, Jack Smart (Catherine) and their daughters, Mary Catherine and Virginia of Altheimer, Ark.
Jack and his family would like to thank his caregivers at First Health Hospice, Jeannie Muse, Kim Hedge and Shanna Waddell, and especially his home caregivers Vincent Verbal and Penny Verbal. Most of all, Jack was devoted to his family, a wonderful and irreplaceable father, and will be loved and missed by all who knew him. In his own words, Jack wanted his family and friends to know that he had a soft spot in his heart for yellow Labrador Retrievers and single malt scotch.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the following: The Jack Hatcher Entrepreneurial Program Bagley College of Engineering, Mississippi State University, Box 9544, Mississippi State, MS 39762-9544; or to FirstHealth Hospice Foundation, 150 Applecross Road, Pinehurst, NC 28374.
Boles Funeral Home of Pinehurst is serving the family.
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