Bill Hatke, RIP

I noticed this morning that the garden across the alley was probably due for a little work. The wall of sunflowers that had bloomed so brightly a few weeks ago were withered, ready to be cut down.The garden across the alley has always served as a pleasure for me. Not just because Bill Hatke, who tended it throughout the year, would occasionally give me some spinach out of it. But because there were times it was simply beautiful. I found out a half-hour later that Hatke, one of the reasons I've loved living in my East Lawrence neighborhood, [has died.][1] It is not to my credit that I learned it from the newspaper.The story in today's Journal-World talks about how he lived simply, and I believe that it's true. I never stepped inside his house, but I couldn't help but notice that I never saw the glow of electric light coming from his windows after dark. And there were a couple of times I emerged from my house to find him poking through my garbage; he always got a sheepish grin, but it was nothing I ever minded.Truth is, the grin is what I'll remember most. Bill Hatke was neighborly, in the best senses: Not intrusive, but always good for a short, friendly chat in the alley, ready to lend a hand if somebody needed a quick spot of physical labor. Sometimes, he'd have an antiwar placard stuck underneath his arm - he'd be off to the regular Saturday protest in front of the Douglas County Courthouse.Late last week, I saw a fire burning in his backyard. It was unusual, but not out of character. I didn't give it much thought.I'll miss my neighbor. [1]:


Duffman 12 years, 8 months ago

you did a good job of bringing back some good memories.... he did have a contagious smile...Thanks

Chris Tackett 12 years, 8 months ago

sorry to hear about this. he certainly sounds like a great person to have known.

Shelby 12 years, 8 months ago

good blog, joel, as per usual. I'd like to hear more about him, if you have anything you could add.

Elizabeth Sedita-Laufer 12 years, 8 months ago

He was a magical gardener and a lovely kooky person. Bill was generous with his bountiful harvests and he left us many bags of spinach, basil, lettuce, green beans and beets on our front porch. He left us bread, children's books, and shoes. He held our babies at supper time so we could eat hands free.We will miss him always.

mamam 12 years, 8 months ago

Sorry to read that the world has lost such a unique individual. Sounds like he will be remembered fondly.....a great legacy.

lazz 12 years, 8 months ago

We should all do a better job of sharing our stories about these wonderful, unique people in our midst while they are still with us. Thanks for letting us learn about Mr. Hatke, Joel. And the newspaper did a nice article, too.

cutny 12 years, 8 months ago

nice tribute to a great guy. And yes, it was that grin that really made him stand out. thanks

pace 12 years, 7 months ago

Today I am moving some dirt. I miss Bill, just the sort of work Bill was good at. Saving plants, transferring them to a temporary bed. The house is to be wrecked, it was destroyed by fire and a new house to be built. Years ago, the first time Bill visited the house, he went to the side yard and dug a little drainage ditch. It serves the yard yet. I was lucky, I was on his regular schedule, We tried to keep the favors down but if he got ahead, he let me feed him. he didn't believe much in charity but was charitable. I will miss his arc, him leaning into his work, his lope, walking along 11th. street, stopping to lean in the car to talk. I didn't find him goofy or weird, I found him brilliant, true, and really really stubborn.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.