Jerry D. Hatfield saved a youth from falling, Gainesville, Florida, October 11, 1967. At night, a distraught youth, 19, climbed 75 feet to the top of a scaffold constructed of metal tubing alongside a building still under construction. A number of persons were attracted; and firemen arrived with a net. Hatfield, 21, student, reached the scene and saw the youth, whom he knew casually, rise to a standing position. He called sharply for him to sit down. The youth did so. Thereafter each time the youth stood erect he obeyed Hatfield’s order to sit down again, but he ignored all pleas to come down from the scaffold. A police officer asked Hatfield to hold the youth’s attention by climbing to him while the police made their way to the roof of the building. Although he was an inexperienced climber, Hatfield agreed to do so. He made his ascent by grasping a horizontal tube of the scaffold six feet above him, swinging one foot upward onto crossed bracing rods, and then drawing himself up onto the tube. While climbing the scaffold, which was not attached to the building, he called assurance to the youth. Each time the youth rose to a standing position, Hatfield ordered him to sit down and was obeyed. Once Hatfield’s shoes slipped on the bracing rods, and he hung suspended by his hands until he was able to draw himself up. He then discarded the shoes. Visibility became poorer as he ascended, climbing slowly because of his unfamiliarity with the scaffold and so as not to alarm the youth. While Hatfield was resting briefly, the youth began to squirm about, causing the scaffold to shake. Hatfield calmed the youth and, urging him to move onto the roof, continued his ascent with great caution. As he raised himself to a position astride the top tube he discovered that the brace at one corner of the scaffold was loose. Although unnerved by, the discovery, he inched his way along the tube to within three feet of the youth. He then said he would like to get off the scaffold and urged the youth to move toward the roof. The youth responded and, straddling the uppermost tube at the side of the scaffold slid along it. Hatfield also moved onto the tube and followed the youth to the roof. Police officers, who by then had ascended to the roof, mist them and took them to the ground.49895-5415
Jerry Dolan Hatfield
March 27, 1946 – November 11, 2022
Longtime educator and community leader Jerry Dolan Hatfield died unexpectedly November 11. Born in Eustis, Jerry was a lifelong Umatilla resident. He was the son of the late Franklin P. “Doc” Hatfield and Adelaide Dolan Hatfield. He was married to Sharon McAlonen Hatfield and devoted father to Morgan A. Hatfield.
A lifelong Gators fan, Jerry earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and administration from the University of Florida. Jerry’s care for others was well-known, but many were unaware that while a student at UF he risked his own life to save another. For his heroism, he was awarded the Carnegie Hero Medal in 1967 and was the first recipient of the Stephen O’Connell Medal.
Jerry dedicated his life to serving his community. He was a longtime member of the Umatilla Kiwanis Club, served in the YMCA Indian Guides with Morgan in the Indian Princess Program, and was a member of the 2005 Leadership Lake County class. He was also active in the community of citrus growers. Heavily involved in civic affairs he was a SECO Board Member for 21 years, serving multiple leadership roles, including president, vice-president, and secretary/treasurer.
As a principal and educator, Jerry led innovative education practices that put schools at the center of the community. He was a beloved principal and spent many years leading Altoona and Spring Creek Elementary Schools in his native North Lake County. He also played a significant role in the 4-H Programs at both schools. Jerry was at the forefront of the charter school movement starting the first charter conversion schools in Florida and serving as a charter school consultant across the state.
An avid hunter and fisherman, Jerry shared his love for the outdoors with friends and family. Fishing trips with Jerry meant a guaranteed story which he would artfully share with rapt audiences.
Jerry is survived by his wife, Sharon, daughter Morgan (Shawn McNew); brothers F.P. “Tim” Hatfield (Ruth) and Michael H. Hatfield; and nieces and nephews, Heidi Hatfield Edwards (Ric), Franklin “Trey” Hatfield, T. Shanley Hatfield (Lesley), Adria Hatfield Rhoads (Steven), and Frankie Hatfield Martin (Nelson).