Dec. 12, 1926 — Nov. 2, 2012
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, Nov. 17, for local native Earl Lee Hiatt of Patterson, who died Nov. 2, 2012, of complications from thyroid cancer.
Mr. Earl Lee Hiatt, 85, was born Dec. 12, 1926 in Patterson the sixth of eight children to the late David and Alice Hiatt. The Hiatts moved to Patterson in 1912 shortly after they were married. Mr. Hiatt graduated with honors from Patterson High School, and, after two years in the Navy where he studied electronics, he moved back to Patterson to help run the family chicken ranch on Lemon Avenue. After the chicken ranch was dismantled in the early ’60s the land was planted with walnuts and now with cherries.
Earl “The Big E” has my friends in high school called him, will be remembered by family and friends with affection for his humor, intelligence and fierce curiosity. I know I will miss the beautiful flowers he planted on the embankment skirting his orchard along Highway 33 between the reservoir and Lemon Ave
He had a lifelong passion for nutrition, agriculture and all things electronic. An inventor and entrepreneur, Mr. Hiatt was a man of many interests and opinions. He will be remembered for his abundant letters to the editor, rebuttals and opinion columns that appeared regularly in the Patterson Irrigator. With a wry smile, he told me that on more than one occasion, he was banned from writing to several publications.
Mr. Hiatt worked for Howk Well and Equipment in Crows Landing in the ’50s and ’60s as an irrigation engineer and was a dealer for the Irrometer Company from 1956 until 2008. There were many other dealerships along the way as well; if it was electronic and had agriculture applications he sold it.
As a certified organic inspector for CCOF from 1990 to1997, Mr. Hiatt had the opportunity to travel to Mexico and many countries in Central and South America as well as Europe and speak with farmers and land owners about their organic and land management practices. On a trip to Paris, when he found his meeting delayed for a day, he ended up in the Louvre where there on the first floor, in a room all by itself, behind a piece of bulletproof glass, he came face to face with “the god dang Mona Lisa, it was right there!” On a separate a trip to Italy, in order to certify disparate parcels of olives, the property manager took him on a bumpy, back road, eight-hour cross country jeep ride. He later told me, “It was the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen.”
Mr. Hiatt enjoyed cruise ship travel with his wife, Donna, took time to visit his children and grandchildren and worked on the ranch every day until his death.
As a member of Toastmasters for over 20 years the most common remark I heard growing up was “I didn’t always agree with what he said, but I liked the way he said it.”
Mr. Hiatt is survived by his wife of 15 years, Donna Hiatt of Patterson; daughters, Rhonda Duppman and her husband, Richard, of Orangevale and Nancee Meleski and her husband, Jim, of Sacramento; son, Stephen Hiatt of Santa Barbara; four grandchildren and his sister, Katherine Howard of Windsor.
The Saturday, Nov. 17 Memorial Service will be at 10:30 a.m. at Hillview Funeral Chapel, 450 W. Las Palmas Ave., in Patterson.