Cover photo for Helen E. Hatcher's Obituary
Helen E. Hatcher Profile Photo

Helen E. Hatcher

June 10, 1924 — September 8, 2023


Helen E. Hatcher

Helen E. Hatcher (Roberts), died on September 8, 2023 in Ottawa at Amica Westboro.

Born in Hamilton, June 10, 1924. A graduate BScN of UWO class of ‘46 , she lived most of her early life in London.  Following her marriage in London, she was a VON nurse in Hamilton, which began a life-long commitment to the VON, wherever she lived. They  moved to Kingston, in 1952, a study leave for our Dad in the UK, a brief but meaningful time in California, 1970-71, Halifax, NS (1976-1989) and back to Kingston. 

Beloved wife of Dr. J. Donald Hatcher (1991), mother to Jan Hatcher Roberts (Allan) and Carly Lowry (Kevin) .  Grandmother to Cory (Lana) and Emma (Andrew) ; Abby and Ben Lowry. GG to  Clara and Myra Roberts and Cameron and Hugh Livingstone.   She was an Aunt, (through her sister Margaret Miller, (deceased) to her cherished niece Kathy Barnard (Scott) and her grandniece and nephew (Laura and Andrew). 

A Celebration of Life will be held at Sydenham Street United Church, Kingston, Ontario, on Sunday October 15th at 2pm., followed by a reception, at “The Barriefield “ , 120 Barrett Court Kingston in the main floor lounge following the service at Sydenham Street United Church .  Interment will be at a later date in St. Thomas, Ontario, details and full obituary will be found in a few days at: 

 In lieu of flowers, please contribute to Queen’s University, JD Hatcher Award or Dalhousie University, JD Hatcher Award, or the charity of your choice.   The family wants to thank the Amica team for the wonderful care over the last years and exceptional loving attention in her final hours. Our heartfelt thanks to Inez, her long time caregiver, who stayed with her over her last few nights, and Petra, our friend and angel, who stayed with her and held her hand as she passed. 


Dear Friends and Family 


We asked folks, if they had time , to send us some memories they had of their time with Mom. These are some of the good memories we want to share with you.   We hope you will enjoy them as much as we have.  If after reading these, a memory is sparked please send them to us and we can include on them a web site that anyone can access.  (  


From John and Gail Benjafield. John Benjafield was the daughter of Merle Benjafield who was raised by Don Hatcher‘s mother. Merle was the niece of Cora Hatcher. My first memory of Helen was when we were visiting St. Thomas before Don and Helen‘s wedding. I would have been around 10 years old. Helen struck me as a most beautiful woman, as indeed she was. She and Don seem to be a perfect couple as indeed they were. We often visited Helen and Don in Kingston. Helen knew how to make visitors feel welcome.  I  remember our times very fondly. 

From Gail Benjafield: Helen and I developed a contest  between us to see who could get a Christmas present to the other earlier in the year. I believe she bested  me by getting one to me by the end of September of a year. Every time I open a kitchen cabinet and see the pasta dish she sent us one year, I think of Helen. I was welcomed wholeheartedly into the Hatcher family when John introduced me as his fiancé. Helen and I became fast friends from the get-go. Before our marriage, Helen sent me a recipe box with one important hand written recipe from her mother-in-law law, Cora.  She passed it on to me: a spicy green relish I made for years. Annually I can’t give it to gifts or fundraisers for community causes. Nothing like this is available commercially. Helens relish. A true gift.


From Mary Gordon ,a med student in the 1970s: I have sweet memories of your mom, feeding the angst ridden medical student and hosting the Salmon River gala.


From Diane Fry, neighbour at “The Barriefield”:  One day, when we saw a fire truck with its siren and lights on, going down highway 2 ,she said :let's follow it", which we did  - but lost sight of it, after we had to stop for a couple of red lights - but it was fun!

Ada Pointon said that when she and Bryan were moving into the building, your mom made them a plateful of muffins, which they deeply appreciated.

She was a great organizer, especially for the "lunch bunches" - which all of us greatly appreciated.  She is greatly missed. She had a wonderful sense of humour.


Duncan Sinclair: student of Dad’s and he and Leona became great friends of Mom and Dad’s:  It’s the end of an era, a great one in my opinion and memory. Helen was quite a lady and partner to quite a guy. Dear Janet (and Carly): I was saddened to learn just now from the Globe and Mail of your Mom’s death. She was a great lady, a great partner to a great guy. Their memories will live on with legions of those who were influenced by their kindnesses and accomplishments over their lifetimes, not least with me. I have often referred to your Dad as one of my three greatest teachers (the other two being Harry Botterell and John Deutsch) but I will include in that group your Mom henceforth who set a standard of genuine caring that were we all to emulate the world would be a much better place. 

One story I will never forget relates to the generous practice your Mom and Dad had of entertaining at their home on King Pitt Road the first-year medical students in the fall not long after their arrival at Queen's. They came in groups for dinner and to meet members of the Department of Physiology of whom I was a new one in the mid '60s. At the time, the Hatchers had a largish long-haired collie-type dog. I seem to remember his name was Bub or something like it. Bub was very friendly, shaggy, and not overly acquainted with grooming, the "dog-spa" and the now fashionable lifestyle of the pampered pet. Sometime before one of these student evenings, your Mom, aware that I, a new faculty member, was a veterinarian, called to ask Leona and me to join the gathering but also to bring with me some nail-clippers, Bub's nails having grown very long to the point she had observed his paws catching in the loops of the new shag-type rug they had just had laid in one part of their house. So as the students and other began to assemble, Helen and I, together with the remarkably co-operative Bub, repaired to the basement to clip his nails. They were badly overgrown and entirely black, the result being of course, that while I got nearly all of them clipped in short order, two of them oozed blood as a result of my hitting the quick, once on a front paw and the other a rear. I had neglected to bring a styptic pencil with me and your Dad did not have one in the medicine cabinet. Bub proved to be a persistent bleeder so it was a matter of your Mom and me spending a good bit of time together with him before dinner applying pressure with swabs, protecting the new carpet from acquiring blood spots, rather than meeting and getting to know the new students. But the episode was an ice-breaker and I came in for some good-natured jibes during the evening. Ever the gracious lady she never mentioned any concerns about the professional competency of the Department's still relatively new recruit. In the end the evening, like the many such before and after, was a great success.


From Jack Blatchford :John Blatchfords son who was a first cousin of Mom’s: We will always remember Helen and all she did for us to learn about our family tree, along with the other wonderful memories that go back to the 1960s {when they visited from the US to Glen Lawrence} 


Jennifer Kitts (collegue of Jan’s) What a great spirit!  I have many fond memories of talking to your Mom at your Christmas parties, she was so proud of you and your family. 


Pete MacEwan: Meds 73: remembered the Sunday night dinner to which he was invited as a first year medical student. These dinners were legendary and many a doctor graduated from Queen’s with their memory of their Sunday night dinner at the Hatcher’s.  Pete said he had come from U of Toronto and felt like he was a bit of an outsider.  He accepted the dinner feeling a bit anxious but by the end of the dinner Mom and Dad made him feel so welcome and part of the Class of ‘73 that he never looked back.   


Debbie Docherty: Our paths crossed first when she welcomed me to share a pew at a funeral we both attended in Kingston (later, neither of us could remember who had died).  She displayed her signature warm nature and we continued to stay in touch.  She welcomed me to her Barrett Court condo for lunch and then sent regular emails alerting me to condos in her building that were up for sale, urging me to make the move.  I did indeed take her sage advice and enjoyed sharing in the sense of community that she helped to nurture there.  Too many times in the condo Aquafit classes the two of us would be chided by the leader as we carried on gossiping and generally having a jolly time.  Helen's commitment to the Lunch Bunch was another one of her contributions that so many in the building came to rely on as a wonderful way to socialize. And then there was the competition of who had the more spectacular sunsets, Salmon River or Metis!  I was so very delighted to have Jan and Helen spend a night with us on your way to or from (I can't remember which way you were going) Salmon River.

Helen left an incredible mark on so many people, myself included.  With quiet grace, enormous warmth and genuine interest in others, she created a community.  Though no one's fool, she enjoyed the inevitable politics that emerged in the condo and made her opinion clear (without shrieking).  Such a strong supporter of others, Helen seemed like the person you wanted to spend time with, to plumb the endless depths of her interesting life experiences and well-earned wisdom.


Later Life Learning in Kingston: ( as remembered by Jan) One day Helen forgot her name tag. On arriving at the check in, she said,” Oh forgot my name”. The younger woman said in a somewhat “calming” voice, “that’s ok do you know what day it is?” Mom replied, “ I forgot my name TAG, not my name”.


From Kitty Wilkins : For many years, my children and I had the good fortune to spend a couple of weeks each summer at the wonderful little cottage on the beach that Helen and Don had built in Salmon River, Nova Scotia. From its carefully chosen location on a fairly isolated stretch of the Bay of Fundy shore, long walks and cookouts on the beach are cherished activities and the sunsets are spectacular.  


But without a doubt, what we always looked forward to the most were the lobster gala suppers. Gala, because everybody—Helen, Jan and her family, my kids and I, and sometimes the neighbours—dressed for the occasion in outfits we spent days selecting at the various Frenchy or Frenchy-like establishments in the area.  The more outlandishly glamorous, the better.  One of Helen’s most memorable gowns was a lime-green floor-length, fully frilled.  She was so delighted with that dress that she kept it for years.


On gala night the dining table was set up outside, a garbage bag for our discarded shells tied to the handle of each chair. Helen’s chair, at the head of the table, had two garbage bags. And of course Helen was always in charge of lobster preparation. After a calming massage, she lowered each into a huge boiling pot, and cooked them to perfection. And then we feasted. Once we had each finished, or thought we had finished, we each passed what was left on our plate along to Helen. I will never forget the sight of her mischievous grin as she picked and sucked her way through every last morsel.  

Amica stories: ( as recalled by Jan) One day Helen was not feeling well, a bit nauseated and said to the nurse, “ Gee, maybe I am pregnant”, it was a relatively new nurse who had not expected her to still have her sense of humour.  My replied, “ I am joking”


From Inez her caregiver:  on the day of King Charles coronation, Inez asked Mom what would you say to Charles?  Mom replied,”Well, you finally made it”


Jan: A few days before she passed, Jan left for Nova Scotia at Helen’s insistence, promising to Jan that she would drink, drink, drink.  And then, with a little smile,  looked at her and said, “Scotch?”

In memory of Helen E. Hatcher, please consider making a donation to one of the following charities:

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Sunday, October 15, 2023

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Sydenham Street United Church

82 Sydenham Street, Kingston, ON K7L 3H4

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