Leonard Hatley was granted eternal rest in the glorious presence of The Lord at 8:20 p.m. on Saturday, February 19, 2022. He was at home, while surrounded by family during his final earthly days and transition to glory.
Leonard “Pud” Hatley was born on Monday, May 30, 1932 in the Burtsell Community of Okolona, AR. He was the baby-born child of 10 children to Jim Hatley and LuCinda McNear. He was raised in the hills and hollers of Burtsell where he was known to run the woods with his brothers Andy and Fred.
He joined the historic St. Clair Baptist Church of Burtsell at an early age. He was an active member of the church and served in Sunday School and on the Deacon Board. After moving to Chidester he joined the Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church. He served Union Grove as a Deacon, Sunday School teacher, Male Chorus member, and maintenance man until his health began to decline.
He was a graduate of Simmons High School; He was a mathematician and basketball player with a heck of a hook shot. Although he had earned a scholarship to college, Leonard began to work after high school at the Gurdon filling station. He had been taught the importance of hard work, commitment, and providing for oneself and family at an early age through the diligence of tending the fields, caring for livestock, and chopping wood. On December 7, 1941(Pearl Harbor Day), he lost his fingers in a wood chopping accident. Although it was a setback, he would learn to adjust to be a dead-shot with a .22 rifle. He was known for shooting squirrels and coons in the eye to preserve the meat.
Leonard’s work ethic and search for better employment took him to California with his brother Fred and Dallas with his nephew James Buford. He later returned to the sawmill in Beirne, AR and ultimately retired from Firestone as a Certified Boiler Operator and Water Specialist in Prescott, AR after more than 25 years of service.
In the early years of being employed at Firestone, he met and fell in love with Eloise Gulley-Hughes. They would wed on Friday, January 9, 1976. They’re loving marriage lasted 43 years until Eloise’s passing on January 23, 2019. Leonard brought to the union a son, Larry and a daughter Debra. He and Eloise established a beautiful life together in Chidester. That would include three more children, Lonnie, Spencer, and Katherine “Cindy.”
Leonard emphasized doing your best at everything you set out to do. He lived by, instilled in his children, and preached a motto of “If a job should once began, never leave it ’til it’s done. Well with labor great or small, do it right or (carry your butt home) not at all.” It’s this attitude of work and learning that continued until he was 80, as he studied the latest information on electrical work and water treatment.
Leonard loved to hunt and fish. He prepared year-round to hunt, fish, and garden so the deep freezers stayed full. He was sure to provide for his family, but also for anyone who needed some help. He had been taught early on how to cook by his mother, and was known far and wide for cooking deer.
Leonard loved his family. He was proud to be a Hatley and was sure to let everyone know it. He was supportive of his children and grandchildren. Although he didn’t make all the events, he made sure Eloise attended everything and that the kids and grandkids knew he was proud of them.
Leonard was an active member of his community. He was a member of Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masonry for over 60 years. He served in various masonic offices and was a financially active member of Victoria #195 of Chidester until his passing. He also attended the Chidester Senior Center on a daily basis to enjoy playing dominoes, eating cookies, and talking with his friends. He lived a life of love, charity, and truth. He was known as a “straight shooter” with a quick wit.
As he settled into retirement, he became a professor of TV judge shows, Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune and the news. He enjoyed the no-nonsense of Judges Judy, Joe Brown and Mathis. He would often have his own judgment and brag that he was right in line with the judges. He consistently read the newspaper and his Sunday School lesson. He was always prepared to give an answer about the bible and the weather.
Leonard had an active and healthy life. He faced health concerns in his late 70s that resulted in a stroke and needing a pacemaker. Although he had those setbacks, he continued to hunt. At 81 he was still using a manual tree climber for deer hunting and would still go “shaking and shooting” squirrel hunting for miles at a time. Following the stroke in 2012 he developed vascular dementia. This disease along with glaucoma diminished his activities, but never his spirit. Ultimately, his eyesight failed and his physical life succumbed to these diseases. He became victorious beyond the difficulties of this world to happily reunite with his loving wife, parents and siblings.
He was preceded in death by his wife and soulmate of 43 years Eloise Hatley; his parents Jim and Lucinda, and all nine of his siblings Christine Beard, K. T. Hatley, Eugene Hatley, Rebecca Hatley, William Hatley, Jim Hatley, Erma Buford, Andy Hatley, and Fred Hatley.
Leonard Hatley’s legacy is remembered in the memories of his children Larry Hatley Duncan (Shirley) of Hot Springs, AR; Debra Jackson of Chicago, IL; Lonnie M. (Sheila) Hughes of Chidester, AR; Spencer L. Hughes of Chidester, AR, and Katherine L. “Cindy” Hatley of Chicago, IL.
His legacy continues in the lives of his seven grandchildren, Sandra Jefferson of Chicago, IL; Patrick (LaVonne) Duncan, De’Jzwan Thrower, Shatorial Miller, Cornelius “Blake” (Kenyatta) Hughes, Spencer D. Hughes and Cross D. (Andrew) Reames; eight great grandchildren, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, countless cousins and an innumerable number of friends.
Public viewing will be held from noon until 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 25, 2022 at the funeral home. The family will receive friends from 6:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.
A celebration of his life will be shared with family and friends at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 26, 2022, at St. Clair Baptist Church with Dr. D.R. Crossley, the eulogist. Interment will be at Union Grove Cemetery in Bluff City, Arkansas.