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Still going strong

Work remains an integral part of a healthy life for the elderly Hatch brothers

WHAT GRIND? At 84, Dean Hatch enjoys working and finds the challenge exciting. Greg Schneider/Genesis Photos

Still going strong
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Brothers Dean Hatch, 84, and Ron Hatch, 74, are still in the workforce. Dean, the grandfather of five, is a contracting officer in the Department of Defense, while Ron, the grandfather of nine, works in global positioning at John Deere. They still enjoy their work, find it an exciting challenge, and consider work as more than a daily grind that finally comes to a halt on your 65th birthday: It’s a way to stay active, continue learning, and mentor younger workers coming into the workforce.

Dean remembers the enduring work ethic of his father, who kept the family afloat during the Depression in Oklahoma by working odd jobs–delivering ice, selling fruit, and inventing farming tools, including one later picked up by Caterpillar. Dean has also done many kinds of work: farming, engineering, teaching, pastoring, developing educational technology and methods to track student achievement, and establishing water purification systems. In the 1980s he applied for a price analyst position at the Defense Contract Management Agency, and has been there ever since, working in California.

He’s watched as the focus of American education changed from academics to behavior: “The major change is the breakup of the family: So many students didn’t have fathers at home and their behavior in school became the paramount issue rather than concentrating on teaching.” At the Department of Defense he’s seen his office diversify ethnically, increase efficiency through the use of technology, and cope with budget cuts.

Dean said he doesn’t know anyone else his age still working: Most took advantage of retirement as soon as they could, but Dean said continuing his daily work routine is an advantage for him: “I enjoy what I’m doing. It’s a challenge. I have the privilege to train a number of people coming in. … I hear of people who retire and haven’t kept active: They don’t seem to live too long after their retirement.” Each night he goes to bed at 9:30 p.m. so he can wake up and get to work by 6 a.m.

Dean plans to retire next year, hoping to spend more time reading the 1,500 books currently in his library. He wants to explore breakthroughs in neuroscience as well as how history relates to current events, specifically in the Middle East.

RON HATCH was born in 1939, a decade after Dean, and at a young age realized he was good at math. He became an electrical technician at Boeing while studying mathand physics at Seattle Pacific, then moved with his wife and son across the continent to work at Johns Hopkins University on a navigation system that helped ships track their positions. He remembers working on giant IBM computers that took up an entire room.

After a few years, Ron moved back West to join Boeing and then spent 23 years with Magnavox, most notably working on an emerging navigation system in the early 1980s–the GPS. Ron’s paper in 1982 introduced what is now known as the “Hatch filter,” a method of increasing GPS accuracy.

At the time he asked for a patent, but was told it couldn’t be patented because it was software: “I knew they were wrong, but in a way I’m glad it wasn’t patented because everybody used it from then on.” He went on to patent over 30 positioning-related inventions, and then went into GPS consulting, living in California like his brother. Ron has worked with John Deere in crop yield monitoring and positioning to determine how much grain will be harvested from each plot of land, and he’s now moved on to automatically steered tractors that can drive in straight lines and reduce overlap and human error.

Every Friday he still sits in meetings and gives advice to the younger workers, relishing the new discoveries they are making: “I really like the challenge.” In his free time Ron critiques Einstein’s theory of relativity, about which he’s written a book. He uses GPS data to provide evidence against relativity, claiming there is an absolute frame and only an apparent relativity “caused by some beautiful mathematics, so I think God designed it so we could learn [about the universe].” Over the years he has published papers on the topic, although many mainstream journals automatically reject papers that question the theory.

He points to Proverbs 25:2—“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out”—to explain how his faith has been strengthened by his work: “I just get great joy, especially in my hobby, of seeing how God designed physics. … If there weren’t an apparent relativity, physics would have had great difficulty developing.” He is part of the Natural Philosophy Alliance, a group of dissident scientists that challenges beliefs in mainstream physics and astronomy.

Ron also said working longer has also helped him provide for his family–as the father of 13, he has now helped send six grandchildren to college. He is also able to give more to his church and other organizations. Last year he cut back his work hours to 35 a week and started working from home part time to be with his wife of 52 years, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. When he does retire, he wants to focus on his hobby and write another book on relativity.

Angela Lu Fulton

Angela is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine and a part-time editor for WORLD Digital. She is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Angela resides in Taipei, Taiwan.



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