Richard Francis “Dick” Hattan, 91, of Salisbury, died peacefully at home on Monday, April 18, 2022 surrounded by his family.
Born in Harlem, New York, amidst the Great Depression, Dick was the fifth child of Arthur Hattan and Susan Carey, two hard-working, proud individuals, who knew great sorrow but persevered.
He grew up on the streets of New York, attending school in the morning and using the afternoon and evening to go to Yankees games, movies, and the Metropolitan Museum of Natural History, and to listen to the radio. Always bright and always searching, he taught himself Latin so he could serve as an altar boy. Later he gained admission at Stuyvesant High School and Queens College.
The day after his college graduation, Dick enlisted in the US Army. He served in Army Intelligence in Germany, signing up for an extra year to “see the world.” He enjoyed his years of service and stated that it made him the man he was. After discharge, he hitchhiked throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
In the late 1950s, he returned to New York and began his career in healthcare as a mental health worker at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Manhattan.
There he met student nurse Mary Curley, his love and partner for the next 63 years of his life. Mary and Dick married in 1960 and moved to St. Louis, where they dove into family life and medical school. Dick became a child psychiatrist. After years of moving, Dick and Mary settled their growing family in Salisbury, New Hampshire, though Dick remained a Yankees fan forever.
Over his lengthy and accomplished career, Dick served the youth of the Granite State at the Anna Philbrook Center of New Hampshire Hospital, Riverbend Community and Genesis Mental Health Centers, and in private practice. Respected and admired by colleagues, he emphasized strength and potential in his patients and their families, rather than weakness or illness.
He retired at age 84. While not working, he relaxed by felling trees in the forest, building (and rebuilding) stonewalls, and re-roofing his 1755 colonial home: the cherished Albatross of his last decades.
Dick was an avid fan of music, art, film, and literature. He loved classical music, pop music, and show tunes. He collected hundreds (thousands?) of 45s for his home jukebox and taught himself piano in his 70s. He passionately watched movies his entire life. Dick loved history.
He led adventurous road trips to museums, National Parks, and battlefields for his ragtag group of ornery children, nieces, and nephews. He forever encouraged loved ones to seek opportunities to grow and learn.
He loved sports, particularly those played by his children and grandchildren. The Yankees, Celtics, and Redskins were his teams. Mary, however, converted to a Red Sox fan – a source of constant banter and a little marital tension. A masterful card player, Dick played any game expertly and maintained his enthusiasm for cards ’til the very last days of his life.
Dick threw a mean party. He and Mary hosted countless cocktail hours, holidays, impromptu events, and weddings at their home. All were welcome, even, once, a stranger who saw all the parked cars and mistakenly thought the gathering was a meeting of the Salisbury Historical Society. After getting some food, the stranger asked Dick, “Are all your meetings this fun? Do they all include dinner?”
Finally, and most importantly, Dick loved his friends, his family, and above all, his beautiful wife Mary. He was available to all – for help with any activity, for support or good advice, or just for a fun visit. While identifying himself a conservative, he pushed his children and grandchildren to think freely and for themselves, always advising to “follow your nose” and “trust your instincts.”
Dick’s memory began leaving him in his last years, yet his concern for others never wavered. Some of his final thoughts were with patients, worrying aloud that everyone be well cared-for and safe. The day before he died at home, surrounded by family, he told Mary, “You know what? I’ve lived a damned good life.”
Dick is predeceased by his parents and siblings; his best friend and card partner, Frank Scaliti; beloved sister-in-law Eileen Scaliti and cousin Joan Dickson; his son Richard Lawrence and granddaughter Mary Elizabeth. He is survived by his wife Mary; their 12 children and children’s spouses; 32 grandchildren; and countless devoted nieces, nephews, and friends.
We are all better people for having known Dick Hattan. He will never be forgotten.
The funeral mass will be at Immaculate Conception Church, Potter Place, at 11 AM on Monday, April 25. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Twin Rivers Interfaith Food Pantry, 2 Central Street Unit C, Franklin NH 03235; or to the National Alliance for Mental Illness at NAMInh.org/donate or NAMI New Hampshire, 85 North State Street, Concord NH 03301.