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John Hathaway, 84, was longtime county district attorney

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Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2004 12:00 am

Memorial services will be held for John W. Hathaway Jan. 10, at 11 a.m. at the Tillamook United Methodist Church.

He died Dec. 31, 2003, in Tillamook at the age of 84.

Mr. Hathaway was born June 1, 1919, in Tillamook to Wallace and Gertrude Hathaway. The Hathaway family is a pioneer family which settled in Tillamook in the mid-1800s and farmed and owned many acres of land in Tillamook County. His great-grandfather, Benjamin Hathaway, was one of the first settlers in Tillamook, and his grandfather, John Hathaway, grew up playing and hunting with the son of Chief Kilchis of the Tillamook Indians. His great-grandmother, Nancy, was the first Caucasian woman to be buried at Bay City IOOF Cemetery in Tillamook County.

He grew up in Tillamook and graduated from Tillamook High School in 1938. He spent his youth hunting and fishing with his grandfather, father and other numerous relatives in Tillamook, and at an early age had a paper route delivering The Oregonian. He played football for the Tillamook High School football team and was always proud of the fact that he was a 140-pound lineman who knew how to handle a bigger lineman. He was also a member of the high school's first golf team as a left-handed golfer.

At the age of 14, he met the love of his life, Virginia Hammer, whom he would later marry Jan. 1, 1942. They were deeply in love all of their lives and had six children.

After John graduated from Tillamook High School, he attended Willamette University in Salem. He studied political science and He was very active at Willamette, and was elected president of his senior class. He made many friends, including later U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield. He helped pay for his college by playing saxophone in dance bands, including in the summers at the Bay Ocean dance hall and in Rockaway.

After graduating from Willamette, he followed his dream to become a lawyer by entering the University of Oregon Law School. John worked as a law clerk in U.S. Senator Wayne Morris' law firm in Eugene while he attended law school. His wife, Virginia, worked for the State of Oregon Employment Office in Eugene, and helped put him through school. As always, they were a team.

After graduating from law school in 1945, Mr. Hathaway went to work for his uncle, John Ebinger, a lawyer in Klamath Falls. After two years, he came back to Tillamook and formed a partnership with a longtime Tillamook lawyer, H.T. Botts. In 1948, he was elected as district attorney for Tillamook County, serving for more than 25 years. He had been in private practice in Tillamook since retiring as district attorney, right until the time of his death. His granddaughter Julie Bishop was his secretary. He also served for many years as the city attorney for Rockaway Beach and municipal judge for the City of Tillamook.

He would regularly provide legal services to clients who could not afford the cost of an attorney or simply not charge a client who needed to speak with him about nonlegal personal matters. His advice was direct and practical with his own special touch of providing wit, wisdom and optimism to his clients.

His son, Greg Hathaway, followed in his footsteps, and practices law in Portland. His grandson, Troy Nixon is also following in his footsteps, and is in his first year of law school at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland.

In the 1950s, Mr. Hathaway and his father, Wally, built the "Nancy H," a 40-foot charter commercial fishing boat, named after his daughter Nancy. The boat was moored in Garibaldi. Mr. Hathaway's son John III, worked as a deck hand on the boat every summer for many years. Mr. Hathaway had his commercial pilot's license and enjoyed skippering the Nancy H. over the Tillamook Bar and out to the Pacific Ocean. He mostly enjoyed the times when he would take his very large family out to fish. The story goes that he would not bring the boat or his family back to port until someone caught a fish.

In the later part of his life, he cared for his wife Virginia when she became ill. He became an expert care giver and provided her an incredible quality of life until her death in 1999.

He developed a strong spiritual faith and belief after the loss of this wife. He was devoted to the Tillamook United Methodist Church and it's pastor Phillip Kearse and committed himself to helping others, including contributing to the "light a life" hospice program in Tillamook.

He died Dec. 31, one day before their 62nd wedding anniversary.

Mr. Hathaway is survived by his five children, John W. Hathaway III and his wife Wally of Scholls, Nancy Pickett and her husband Mike of Tillamook, Gregory S. Hathaway and his wife Judy of Portland, Candice Hathaway Preston and her husband Gary of Netarts and Robert B. Hathaway of Palm Springs, Calif.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 59 years, Virginia, and their son Jeffery.

He is also survived by his 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, granddaughter Julie Bishop and her husband Shawn, their children Jeffery and Skylar; grandson Troy Nixon and his wife Maria, their daughter Ila; granddaughter Jodi Nixon, her daughters Natasha and Izabella; granddaughter Rebecca Werst and her husband John, their children Rusty and Jaiden; grandsons Tony Nixon, Sean Hathaway, Randy Hathaway, Eddy Hathaway Wallmark, Jason Killpack and granddaughter Keely Killpack.

Inurnment will be held at Bay City IOOF Cemetery.

Those who wish to make contributions in lieu of flowers may make them to Tillamook United Methodist Church.

Arrangements are in care of Waud's Funeral Home, Tillamook.

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