From MEMA Industry News
William Claud “Bill” Hatcher, longtime leader in the automotive aftermarket as former president and chief operating officer (COO) of Genuine Parts Company (GPC) and former president and board chairman of the National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA), passed away on June 17.
“While the word is often overused, in this case it is appropriate: Bill Hatcher was an icon in our industry. He spent his entire career with Genuine Parts Company (GPC) and stood shoulder to shoulder with those who were instrumental in the growth and development of the automotive aftermarket,” said Steve Handschuh, president and CEO of MEMA. “It was well known within GPC that if you encountered Bill in the hallway, he was going to ask you what you were working on. It was not a casual question. You’d better be prepared to tell him exactly what you were doing and how it would benefit NAPA Auto Parts stores. That intense focus on advancing the business interests of NAPA store owners and employees was relentless. Bill Hatcher will be missed but his legacy will never be forgotten.”
Hatcher began his long career with GPC in 1940 when he was a student at Georgia Evening College (now Georgia State University) in Atlanta. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942-1945, Hatcher returned to GPC in Atlanta. He was transferred to GPC’s facilities in Birmingham, Alabama, and New Orleans, but moved back to Atlanta in 1961 as president of the Atlanta operations.
In 1964, Hatcher was elected to the GPC board of directors and named vice president of operations for the entire company. Elected president and COO in 1974, he retired as vice chairman of the board in 1987.
Throughout his career, Hatcher was active in the business community. He served as president and chairman of the board of National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA). He served on the boards of directors for Echlin, Inc., National Services Industries, Munich American Reinsurance Company, Atlantic Steel Company and the Canadian-American Society of the Southeast.
He also held many volunteer and civic positions. Hatcher served as chairman of the Board of Trustees at Northside United Methodist Church. He previously had served as chairman of the finance committee at Peachtree Road Methodist Church. He was chairman of the finance committee at Young Harris College and was a charter member of the Morehouse College School of Medicine Board of Trustees. He was on the advisory board of Georgia State University’s Board of Visitors. Hatcher was a board member at Young Harris College and was chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Schenck School. Past president of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, Hatcher was also active in Junior Achievement and the annual United Way fundraising campaigns for many years. A past member of the board of directors for the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Hatcher also served as a trustee of Wesley Woods and as a board member for the Shepherd Center.
He received many honors and awards for his business and civic achievements. Hatcher was honored as the distinguished alumnus for the Georgia State University College of Business in 1982. In 1991, he received the distinguished service award from the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit. In 2004, Hatcher was awarded the President’s Medallion for outstanding service to Young Harris College. In 2006, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Georgia State University. And in 2010, he was honored by Day One as the Methodist Civic Leader of the Year.
Hatcher is survived by his wife of 40 years, Betty (Bebe) Sims Hatcher; his daughter, Peggy Hatcher; stepson and daughter-in-law, Ric and Debbie Weeks Felker; stepdaughter and son-in-law Betty Felker King and Rob King; grandchildren Lucy Hunt Hatcher; Allison Felker Hedgecoth and her husband, Charlie; Reeves Felker; Sarah Felker; Wilson King and his wife, Holly; Abbie King Finlayson and her husband, Ryan; Carter King and his wife, Katie; and Parker King and his wife, Jenny. He is also survived by seven great-grandchildren.
The memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 20 at Northside United Methodist Church with a reception to follow at the church.