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The Honorable Richard G. Hatcher, the first Black mayor of Gary, Indiana, and historic political leader has died

A little over two months ago dignitaries, community leaders and residents joined the family of former Gary, Indiana, Mayor Richard Gordon Hatcher as Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson led a special dedication ceremony in his honor of a 10-foot tall bronze statue.

Today, the man who served for 20 years as Gary’s first Black mayor and who organized the historic 1972 Black Political Convention has died. Mayor Hatcher was 86.

Mayor Hatcher’s family released the following statement on his passing:

Former Mayor Richard Gordon Hatcher of Gary, Indiana passed from this life on Friday, December 13, 2019 at 9:20 p.m. in Chicago, Illinois at Mercy Hospital. In the last days of his life, he was surrounded by his family and loved ones. While deeply saddened by his passing, his family is very proud of the life he lived, including his many contributions to the cause of racial and economic justice and the more than 20 years of service he devoted to the city of Gary.

Mayor Hatcher will be mourned but remembered by the people of the city of Gary who were inspired by his leadership, his ability to bring about positive change and to never give up despite the challenges presented to him.

Details regarding the public funeral plans will be forthcoming.

The Gary and Chicago Crusader Newspapers will report details as they become available.

A special tribute to Richard Gordon Hatcher will be published in the Crusaders’ upcoming issues.

Statements and tributes to Richard Gordon Hatcher:

Posted Sunday, December 15, 2019

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson released this statement after learning of the passing of Mayor Richard Gordon Hatcher:

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mayor Richard Gordon Hatcher.  I offer my personal condolences to his wife: Ruth Ellen, his daughters; Ragen, Rachelle and Renee… and to his family and friends.  Our entire community mourns the loss of a great man and we will be forever touched by his selfless service to the city of Gary.  I am humbled to be a recipient of his wisdom and guidance and will always be grateful for his influence on my life.  “We should be proud as a community that we gave him his flowers in the form of a statue placed at City Hall while he could smell them.”





INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) released the following statement about the passing of Richard G. Hatcher, the former mayor of Gary, a longtime civil rights activist and the father of State Representative Ragen Hatcher (D-Gary), who is a member of our caucus:

“Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Hatcher family as we mourn the loss of a trailblazer and tireless public servant and civil rights activist, Richard G. Hatcher. He was an altruistic leader who never stopped believing in his city or his people. As one of the first African American mayors of a large American city, Hatcher sought to stem Gary’s poverty and blight while empowering the African American community. He spoke truth to power and inspired many other African Americans to run for office, including his daughter and many other members of this caucus. We are proud of the legacy he leaves behind. Our caucus will continue to seek fairness and justice for all in our communities by learning from his example.”

Richard G. Hatcher is survived by his wife, Ruthellyn Rowles; his daughters Ragen Hatcher, Rachelle Hatcher-Swan and Renee Hatcher; his sister, Margie Davis; and six grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the Richard Gordon Hatcher Legacy Foundation Inc. P.O. Box 64105, Gary, Indiana 46401.

Posted Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Related articles:

“Richard Gordon Hatcher Forever,” by Erick Johnson, The Gary Crusader Newspaper

“Hatcher Was a Mayor For All People,” by Erick Johnson, The Gary Crusader Newspaper


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