Unsung hero. Spiritual Advisor. Mentor. Social Justice Advocate. Earlean Baskin Hatch, 88, has been a change-maker in Marion. Although she grew up in Waxhaw (Union County), North Carolina, Earlean (affectionately known to many locals as “Mother Hatch”) was a powerful force in the Marion community for well over 40 years.
Earlean, a registered nurse, and her husband, CEO for the pet food division of Quaker Oats, moved to Marion on May 6, 1976, when her husband was transferred from Illinois and their son, Michael Alan, was 5 years old. The matriarch quotes her husband as saying, “Here she comes, Marion. You’ll never be the same.”
The family was looking to buy a home and settle here. Housing was still segregated at that time in this area; in fact, according to Earlean, the Chamber of Commerce had to get approval for a waiver of the segregation law in order for the Hatch family to buy a newly-built home at 742 Harding Road. “My husband’s employer notified the Chamber of the issue. The ‘powers that be’ got together and the real estate agencies concurred that a change needed to happen.” The Hatches remained on Harding Road for more than 33 years.
At this time in history, Earlean said, the contributions of African Americans were not effectively included in courses such as literature, history, arts, and social studies. Materials highlighting the work of African Americans in the community were lacking or glossed over in school curriculum and in libraries. “There was almost nothing on the shelves about the important work of African Americans in the country,” she stated. “But Marion was always amenable to suggestions to move the issue forward.” Earlean got involved early on in the local schools, serving as a room mother and Parent-Teacher Organization Secretary, and encouraging the involvement of young students in essays, displays, and other projects that recognized and honored Black history.
Earlean Hatch and several others established the Black Heritage Council in 1977, including Mary Huston, Rev. Curtis Mitchell, the late John Nelson, Jessie Patterson Thompson, and Jonas Tyler. The following year, the first annual Black History Celebration was held and expanded to what it is today (pre-pandemic). Over 200 attendees have enjoyed the event in recent years. Earlean’s love for people and community and her genuine spirit of giving has helped to fuel the Council and the celebrations over the years. “People are generally kind, loving, and genuine,” she emphasizes.
Described by others as a spiritual leader, Mrs. Hatch directed a community-wide vacation Bible school for many years. She shared Christian messages with others by giving out “testa-mints” (candy) along with encouragement, according to her friend, Tara Dyer, who said, “Because of Mother Hatch, I am. She’s been a truly great mentor to me over the years.”
In 2003, Mother Hatch was nominated for the Athena Award in recognition of her outstanding work in the community. She served on the Ohio Children’s Safety Board, the Marion-Crawford Community Action Board, American Red Cross Board, Retired Senior Volunteers Advisory Council, and was past president of Church Women United. She also served on the Private Industry Council and on a multi-cultural advisory council to Harding High School. And those are merely a few examples of her community involvement.
For 17 years, Earlean brought encouragement and hope to the community through her TV 39 program, Life of Joy Ministries. This role as a media personality allowed her to promote awareness and help raise funds for a number of issues, including social justice, education, and Black history. She was also involved with a WWGH radio program that she helped to develop, called the “Voice of the People”.
Earlean Baskin Hatch, who currently resides in North Carolina, lives her mantra, “Bloom Where You Are Planted” and has sustained her spirit of faith in the community…truly demonstrating the mission of MarionMade!