Former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher, one of the first Black mayors of a major US city, has died. He was 86. Hatcher, who served five terms as mayor of Gary died in a Chicago hospital on the night of Dec. 13, according to Rep. Regan Hatcher, his daughter.
When Hatcher was elected to office in 1967, he became the mayor of what was then the second-largest city in Indiana and over the course of five terms, became a political force in Gary and for African Americans throughout the nation.
In 1972, Hatcher organized the National Black Political Convention in Gary, and went on to serve as chairman of Jesse Jackson’s Democratic presidential campaign in 1984. In 1988, he served as vice chairman for Jackson’s campaign.
In a statement, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus celebrated Hatcher as a trailblazer and a leader:
“Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Hatcher family as we mourn the loss of a trailblazer and tireless public servant and civil rights activist, Richard G. Hatcher. He was an altruistic leader who never stopped believing in his city or his people. As one of the first African American mayors of a large American city, Hatcher sought to stem Gary’s poverty and blight while empowering the African American community. He spoke truth to power and inspired many other African Americans to run for office, including his daughter and many other members of this caucus. We are proud of the legacy he leaves behind. Our caucus will continue to seek fairness and justice for all in our communities by learning from his example.”
Hatcher is survived by his wife, Ruthellyn Rowles, three daughters; Ragen, Rachelle and Renee, and six grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, his family requests donations to the Richard Gordon Hatcher Legacy Foundation Inc. P.O. Box 64105, Gary IN, 46401.