TRAVERSE CITY — William Earl Hatton, 86, was born Dec. 7, 1927, in Bloomington, Ind.
He served two years as a Military Police in the peacetime U.S. Army and attended Indiana University on the GI Bill, where he was inducted into Phi Lambda Upsilon Honorary Chemical Society. As a graduate student at IU he researched fluoridating toothpaste.
He rode his Harley to Utah in the 1950s with a fellow grad student to look for uranium (didn’t find any).
He married Elizabeth Shortridge, an art student at IU, in 1956 and moved to Michigan with their oldest daughter to do research for Dow Chemical Co. He accompanied the birth of his second daughter in the family VW bug. Sons, Andrew and Nathan joined the family in the 1960s and Daryll was a late addition in 2004. Bill left research and worked as an industrial chemist for Federal Alloys in Hamtramck, 2V Industries in Novi and at the University of Michigan. He lived in Farmington Hills for 42 years before moving to Traverse City for health reasons in 2010.
William Earl was a lifelong liberal and early supporter of civil rights. In the early 1960s he proposed that Dow institute an affirmative hiring plan. He publicly advocated for open housing, the Civil Rights Act, equal access to education and poverty relief. He developed his own photos, became a certified Master Gardener, tutored neighborhood students in chemistry and could repair, wire or program anything in the house. Often ahead of his time, he was among the first home computer users, putting together a mail-order Apple Macintosh knock-off called a “Gorilla Banana” over 30 years ago. He learned to cook from his mother and did all the cooking for his wife and children.
He was a longtime member of the Farmington Democratic Club, the ACLU and the Unitarian Universalist Church in both Midland and Farmington Hills.
He retained his dry sense of humor until the end of his life. Under his gruff and stoic exterior he was tender-hearted, generous and sympathetic, feelings he expressed in his actions more than in words.
William Earl is survived by his wife of 57 years, Elizabeth (Bette Shortridge), of Traverse City; daughters, Lydia and Rebecca (Paul Torek); sons, Nathan and Daryll; daughter-in-law, Sheri; sister, Martha Burris; grandchildren, Mathew (Kelly) and Joe Fordon, Thea Torek, Kelsey, Kolin and Julia Hatton and Lizzie Hatton.
He was preceded in death by his son, Andrew in 2013; his parents (1936 and 2002); his niece, Robin Hatton (1969); and his sister, Wetona Stone (2002).
He is remembered by his sisters-in-law, Dotte (Bob) Radeke, Mary Helen Shortridge and Linda Shortridge; and several nieces and nephews.
His family is eternally grateful to the staff of Hawthorn Cottage, Maple Pavilion and Hospice of Michigan. When Bill was no longer able to remember his family, these devoted staff became his family and made his last days most happy and content.
A memorial will be held on May 17, 2014, at 2 p.m., at the Friends Meetinghouse, at the corner of Fifth and Oak, in Traverse City.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Grand Traverse Pavilions or the ACLU of Michigan.
Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to sign the guestbook and share a message with his family.
The family chose Life Story Funeral Home, Traverse City, to handle the arrangements.