Passing of Geology Professor Ken Hatfield

Kenneth Gerald Hatfield

January 13, 1922 – January 15, 2019

Hatfield and Lowman with plaque

Presentation in recognition of his work for the Grand Opening of the C. Ernest Kemp Mineral Resources Museum in 2007

Retired LSSU Geology Professor Kenneth Hatfield ‘46, entered eternal rest Tuesday, January 15, 2019 in Silver City, New Mexico. He was 97. Ken was born January 13, 1922 in Sebewa Township, Michigan to Lyle Henry and Nellie Mae Hatfield. He is survived by his loving wife Kyung-Ok of the family home; one son, Yul Chang; one daughter, Sunae Chang. He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Eldon Lowell Hatfield. A memorial service was celebrated January 22 at Terrazas Funeral Chapels.

Ken was a very experienced and knowledgeable field geologist who, in addition to teaching courses including structural geology, led many field excursions for LSSU geology classes. He also led numerous outings for the community through the Sault Naturalists and was active in People to People. Ken was an accomplished artist and his sketches provided detailed illustrative diagrams to enhance student learning. He and his wife, Kyung Ok, were very involved with the Sault Area artistic community at Alberta House where Ken had multiple shows of his sketches and water color paintings. After his retirement, Ken published two books, one detailing his experiences as a field geologist for the government and for industry and the other discussing one of his favorite geological sites located near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

After growing up in Alpena, Ken served in the U.S. Army during World War II for 40 months, mostly as a photographer stationed near Casablanca, Morocco. He received an honorable discharge in February 1946, at which time he became a member of the pioneer class of the Soo Branch of Michigan Tech in Sault Ste. Marie. He graduated from Michigan Technological University with a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering. He enjoyed a long career in mining and exploration, working for Kerr-McGee. He retired from the industry in 1982 and joined the LSSU Geology faculty until his second retirement in 1993.

Hatfield explaining exhibit

Ken Hatfield with patrons during the Ken and Kyung Hatfield art exhibit – LSSU Arts Center Gallery in 2015

While working in the field, Ken recorded his findings in sketches he made at the scene. He continued this practice all his life and he furthered his interest when he married Kyung, an artist, more than 50 years ago. He would sketch wherever his work or their vacations took him, including Korea, Japan, China, Mexico, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru. He did most of his work on site, working in pen and ink, watercolors and pastels.

Both Ken and Kyung have been recognized many times over the years for their art, although Ken was always quick to admit that Kyung is the artist in the family.

Ken has won awards in numerous Sault Area Arts Festivals, usually the Graphics Award, and has served as a judge for the Olive Craig Gallery’s annual juried exhibition.  It was also noted that he is the creator of the logo for the Sault Area Arts Council’s home – Alberta House Arts Center.  For several years, he painted in plein air with Dave Bigelow, Tom Marshall and Carl Forslund, in the Gentlemen Artist Sketching Society. The group exhibited at the Alberta House in May 2008.

Ken’s work was also showcased in a number of juried shows in New Mexico, Arizona and Michigan. In addition, he illustrated books for the Chippewa County Historical Society, a calendar for the Bayliss Public Library, and drawings for the C. Ernest Kemp Mineral Resources Museum.

Ken published a memoir of his years as a geologist. Notes to my Nieces: Reflections in the life of a Field Geologist expands on a collection of notes and artwork to his nieces, who showed an affectionate interest in his meandering as a field geologist. The book includes details from a journal that he and Kyung kept during their three months teaching English in China.

In February 2018 Alberta House showed Ken’s photo exhibition, featuring people in Casablanca.

Hatfield Kemp Committee

Seated, L-R: Virgean Knight (’52), Win Chance, Dennis Dougherty (’68), Anne Stafford (Kemp)
Standing, L-R: David Knowles, Michael Donovan, Jim Knight (’55 geo engr) Lew Brown, Ken Hatfield

Ken passed away just two days after turning 97. He was active right up to the very last:  writing and sketching and taking care of his dear Kyung.

Paul Kelso ’86, also an LSSU professor of geology, spent a great deal of time with Ken over the years. Paul relayed, “As someone said to me, Ken was one of the most kind, talented and unassuming people you could ever meet. He had time for everyone and was always willing to take new faculty, or other interested individuals, to see interesting natural features in our region. He was a classic scientist/artist, which seems pretty rare these days.”

He will be greatly missed!

At this time, it is not known if any remembrance will be held locally. The obituary for Ken can be viewed here.

A high-resolution file of Ken Hatfield’s Sigi Ho Tsosiis available here.