Raymond Robert (Ray) Hatton, passed away peacefully on March 4th, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. in Eugene, with his wife, Sylvia, by his side. He was 83. Ray was an educator, author, and well known long-distance runner. He earned degrees in education and geography from University of Idaho and the University of Oregon. He was an award winning college geography professor for many years. Ray wrote ten books on Oregon geography, history, and climatology. In the 1970s and 1980s, he won numerous Masters level running championships and set World and American records in several long-distance running events.
Ray was born Feb. 4th, 1932 in Lichfield, England. Ray was the fourth of six children born to Eric Richard Hatton and Margaret Curry Hatton. Ray began competitive running in 1943. Running with the Birchfield Harriers, he ran a 4:11 mile and 8:57 two-mile. In 1952, he represented England in the International Cross Country Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, in which he finished 16th in the world. He married Sylvia Grace Harvey on February 7, 1953 in Hammerwich, England. Ray and Sylvia moved to the United States in 1956 for Ray to attend the University of Idaho on a track scholarship. As an undergraduate, he competed in both track and cross-country. In 1959, he won the Pacific Coast Conference cross country championship. He graduated from the University of Idaho in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science degree in education. He then went on to acquire a Masters of Education degree in secondary education from the University of Idaho, completing his post-graduate work in 1966. Ray and Sylvia moved to Sacramento California in 1960, where Ray taught at Don Julio Jr. High School until 1969. In 1969, Ray earned a Master of Arts in geography from University of Oregon. His master’s thesis was on the impact of tourism on Central Oregon. Later that year, he joined the faculty at Central Oregon Community College. As a member of the faculty, his academic interests included economics, cultural geography, land use, and climatology. In 1973, he published his first book, a study of the weather and climate of Central Oregon. The college gave him a sabbatical during the 1975-1976 academic year to research and write his second book, High Desert Of Central Oregon. He received a doctorate degree in geography from the University of Oregon in 1989. In 1990, Ray received Central Oregon Community College’s Faculty Achievement Award. During his tenure at Central Oregon Community College, he published six books on Oregon geography, history, and climatology. He retired from Central Oregon Community College in 1993. As a professor emeritus, he continued to research and write about Oregon. After retiring from his college faculty position, Ray published four more books.
Over the years, Ray’s research, including numerous first-person field interviews, has played an important role in preserving Central Oregon’s pioneer history. This work was the basis for ten books. Central Oregon’s geography, history, and climate are the subject of the first eight books. The last two books are on the weather and climate of the state of Oregon and the Portland, Oregon area. In all, his books were:
Bend Country Weather and Climate; High Desert of Central Oregon; Bend in Central Oregon; High Country of Central Oregon; Pioneer Homesteaders of the Fort Rock Valley; Oregon’s Big Country: A Portrait of Southeastern Oregon; Sisters Country Weather and Climate; Oregon’s Sisters Country (co-written with Lawrence A. Chitwood and Stuart G. Garrett); The Oregon Weather Book: A State of Extremes (co-written with George H. Taylor); Portland, Oregon Weather and Climate: A Historical Perspective. In addition to teaching geography at Central Oregon Community College, and writing historical geography and weather and climate books, Ray continued to compete in elite running events. During the 1970s and 1980s, he won national championship races and set a number of American long-distance running records in Masters level competitions. At the Amateur Athletic Union’s national masters championship in 1972, Ray won the 1,500 meters (4:11.5), 5,000 meters (15:36.3), and 10,000 meters (31:42.8) in the 40-44 age division. In a 1972 Runner’s World article, Ray was dubbed the fastest master’s runner in the world at that time, having broke several world records after reaching age 40. In 1974, he won both 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters events at the Amateur Athletic Union’s national masters championship. Ray again won the 40-44 age division national championship in 10,000 meters in 1976. In 1979, he competed in the 45-49 age division, winning the 5,000 meters and placing second in the 10,000 meters. In 1981, Ray was named Masters 45-49 Age Division Runner of the Year by USA Track and Field (the governing body for track and field in the United States). The next year, Ray was recognized with the same award in the 50-54 age category. In 1984, he won the national masters title in the 10,000 meters, running in the 50-54 age division. He competed in the 55-59 age division in 1987, winning the 5,000 meters and placing second in the 1,500 meters. In 1988, Ray was the top ranked 55-59 age division runner in the United States in both the 3,000 meters and the 5,000 meters. That year, he posted a time of 9:37.8 in the 3,000 meters along with a 16:35.5 in the 5,000 meters. The next year, he continued as the top ranked runner in the 3,000 meters, clocking a time of 9:34.0. After back surgery in 1992, Ray retired from competitive running on the track, but continued to compete each year in one of his favorite races, the Steen’s Mountain Rim Run in Southeastern Oregon, in which he still holds the 50-59 age group record and 70+ age record in the 10K run, and the age 70+ age record in the 10K walk. Over the years, Ray set a number of national running records. He set American records in the 40-44 age category in the 1 mile (4:24.0), the for 2 mile (9:17.6), and the 10,000 meters (30:56.0). Ray was inducted into the USA Track and Field Masters Hall of Fame in 2001. As of today, four of his American records still stand:
American 1,500 meters record (Masters 50-54 age division) — 4:05.8 (set 8 July 1982) American 3,000 meters record (Masters 50-54 age division) — 8:53.8 (set 25 June 1982) American 10,000 meters road race record (Masters 50-54 age division) — 31:48 (set 23 May 1982) American 10,000 meters record (Masters 50-54 age division) -- 32:10.4 (set 18 June 1983)
In addition to long-distance running, his recreational interests included hiking, cross- country skiing and mountain climbing. Ray is survived by wife Sylvia of Bend, Oregon, his son, R. Peter Hatton, and daughter-in-law, Tana Hatton, of Bend, and his daughter, Janice E. Hatton, and son-in-law, Charlie Wilshire, of Eugene, and six grandchildren, Eric Hatton, Michael Hatton, Brenden Hatton, Alyssa Hatton, Kiersten Hatton, and Tia Hatton. Ray is also survived by two of his brothers, Eric Hatton and Peter Hatton, both of Melbourne, Australia, and a sister, June Hurdle, of Sidmouth, England. A memorial service with a reception following will be held Sunday, April 26th, at 1:00 p.m. at Central Oregon Community College, Wille Hall located in the Campus Center, 2600 College Way, Bend, Oregon. It will be a time to remember Ray’s immense impact on so many and share stories of a life well lived.
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