The following article by Charles Hartley was published on 29 Nov 2015.
By now you've likely read one or more obituaries for Frank R. Hatfield, former Superintendent of the Bullitt County Schools. You've read about his service to the school system, his leadership of Kentucky retired teachers, his long service as a member of the Lions Club, and with the American Cancer Society. Perhaps you even have your own memories and stories about Frank.
I want to take this opportunity to share my memories with you.
At the funeral home, I sat down beside Ray Armstrong to watch the slideshow of pictures from the life of Frank Hatfield, and the first thing Ray said was "if you open a dictionary to the word 'integrity' you should find a picture of Frank Hatfield there." That's so true, and Ray would know, for he spent many a year working in close contact with Frank.
I was fresh out of college, and still wet behind the ears, the first time I met Frank. At that time it was 'Mr. Hatfield' who was principal of Shepherdsville High School, and I was looking for my first teaching job. Perhaps against his better judgment, he hired me. The thing I remember about that interview is that, as nervous as I was, Frank took time to get acquainted with me, and made me feel like this was where I wanted to be.
The next year Frank became the school superintendent, a position he would hold for 21 years. While I didn't have much day to day contact with him in that role, the thing I'll always remember is the trust I felt that no matter what the situation was, I could count on Frank Hatfield to do the right thing. The students always came first with Frank.
Keith Davis, current superintendent, wrote these words, "Frank Hatfield exemplified dedication to children and his community and proves that we can make a positive difference in the world through our efforts."
This was obvious by the attendance of so many current and retired teachers during visitation at the funeral home. Barbara Elliot, a retired teacher and administrator, commented that she had seen so many former teachers and administrators in the room when she arrived, and then, as school let out for the evening, so many current teachers who had been students during Frank's tenure. It was apparent that all of them wanted to show their appreciation for his service.
It was during later years that I came to know and appreciate Frank even more. Others can tell you about his service in the community, but I remember him best in his dedication to his church.
During his time as school superintendent, Frank oversaw the construction of all three of our county high schools, as well as numerous middle and elementary buildings. He used this experience to lead the planning and construction of our church's Education Building.
I joined Frank's Sunday School class at First Baptist, and quickly learned what a good teacher he was. His lessons were always thoughtful and insightful. Frank led his class with the same humor that so many others have commented on during these past few weeks. He always had an amusing story that was so appropriate to the lesson at hand.
Although Frank's favorite lessons came from the New Testament, his special Bible verse, which he quoted frequently, was from Micah 6:8. "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Frank believed that and lived it to the best of his ability.
After years of service, Frank chose to step down as our teacher, and I was honored (and a little scared) to step in as his replacement. Frank remained a vital member of our class, and continued to share his insights and humor in that role. I'll always be thankful for the way he contributed to our understanding of each week's lesson.
A bit more than two years ago, I was pleased to be able to share with the CJ's readers Frank's role in the effort that resulted in the Kentucky Education Reform Act in 1990. Then David Stange wrote last year about Frank's humorous experience with a long-distance operator during his Navy days. These two articles (still available online at the Bullitt County History Museum web site) demonstrate two sides of Frank Hatfield; both his humor and his determination to do his best for the children.
In recent years, although Frank's health suffered, he continued to be the same person, still a man of integrity, still a loving husband, father and grandfather, still willing to share a good story, still a good friend.
I know I'm a better man for having known Frank Hatfield, and for that I'm so grateful. Rest in peace, my friend.
Copyright 2015 by Charles Hartley, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.