William F. “Bucky” Hatchett, named by the Newark Star Ledger as of of the 50 Greatest High School Athletes of the 20th Century–maybe he was the very best”, peacefully passed away on October 14, 2011 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. The oldest of three children, “Bucky” was raised by Agnes and Clarence Hatchett and was born on September 10, 1927 in Glen Ridge. He spent his formative years in Montclair before moving to Verona.
Bucky took Verona by storm, earning 12 varsity letters in track, football and basketball. He was the first 1000-point scorer at Verona High School, set school records in the hurdles, shot put and high jump. He was inducted into the Verona High School Hall of Fame, Essex County Chapter National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. After being recruited by schools such as Columbia, Cornell, Syracuse and Ohio State, Bucky chose Rutgers, on a full academic and athletic scholarship, to stay close to his home state of New Jersey.
Bucky then took Rutgers by storm. Though he was only one of seven African Americans in his class, he was elected senior class president of the student body. At Rutgers, he once again excelled in sports with 10 Rutgers varsity letters, and was the first ever 1000-point scorer, a record that stood for 15 years. He was also the only man in the history of Rutgers to be inducted into two sports halls of fame, for football and basketball. He was also a member of the Cap and Skull (senior honor society), Crown and Skull (junior honor society), and a cadet lieutenant in the Military Science Department.
After graduating with a degree in education in 1950, Bucky was drafted by the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets, but had to yield his plans to a higher draft board. Commissioned as a second lieutenant by the ROTC, he spent a year in northern Japan during the Korean War.
Returning to civilian life, Bucky joined the staff of the Verona Public Schools, a position in which he served for 16 years as a teacher and basketball coach. During this time, he also played semi-pro ball in the Eastern Professional Basketball League. In 1960, he married Ora Jennings and raised their son Craig and twin daughters Kimberley and Karen.
In 1966, Bucky left Verona to take a position with RCA Corp. at its McCoy Job Corp Center in Sparta, Wisc., where he created and operated a recreation program for 1,200 Job Corps young men. He left Wisconsin in 1968, relocating his family to Lawrenceville, N.J., to work in RCA’s corporate headquarters in New York City, where he was in management in their Human Resource division. He retired in 1987 after a 21-year career with the corporate staff of RCA. Bucky and his loving wife Ora retired in Spotsylvania, Va., and later moved to Monroe Township, N.J.
Left behind to cherish his memories are his loving wife Ora, son Craig Hatchett and his daughter Collette of Trenton, and twin daughters Karen Pavlin, her husband Rob Pavlin and their daughter Zuri and son Marley, Kimberley Hatchett-Maitland, her husband Tracy V. Maitland and daughter Lauren, all from New York City, his brother Thomas Hatchett and his wife Florice of Verona and a host of nieces and nephews, family and close friends.
Visitation will be Thursday, October 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. At Martin’s Home for Service Inc., 48 Elm Street, Montclair. The service will be Friday, October 21 at 11 a.m. At St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 51 Elm Street, Montclair. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Mount Sinai Palliative Care Unit.
One of the most memorable people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Those trips to see the Giants at the Polo Grounds are a memory I will always treasure.
May “Bucky” rest in peace. AMEN
A truly pillar of a man that molded in many of us the desire to succeed in many areas of life. I feel deeply honored to have been one of his students back in Henry B Whitehorne, thank you Mr Hatchett God bless this man and his family. I is a very sad day, rest in peace sir..
Bucky, I have alwys remembered the summer baseball league you ran. Thanks for all of the things you taught me about life and sports while working for you. Henry Tancke Lititz Pa. 17543
R.I.P. Bucky, Not just a giant of man but a giant of a role model for all of us. I can still hear his booming voice in a megaphone waking us up at the Bucky hatchett basketball camp with the greeting, “Good Morning Future All Staters, Rise and Shine”. I was eight years old. He showed us how to be strong by being gentle and being positive. He made his mark.
Many memories rushed back upon hearing the news of Bucky’s death. The summer “baseball school” he ran is one of my fondest childhood recollections. I can vividly recall going to Orange, NJ and playing ball against a team run by Monte Irvin’s brother, a man Bucky knew well. I have no doubt that had Bucky chosen to play baseball he would have excelled at that too. Farewell, Buck.
Steve, the NJSIAA will soon be bestowing a much overdue honor on Bucky. On Monday, December 5, the group will be inducting him into its Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Edison. We’ll have all the details and the reservations form posted to the site soon.