When revered Northwest painter Morris Graves died in 2001, several local museums pulled out their Graves paintings for memorial shows. But the biggest exhibition...

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When revered Northwest painter Morris Graves died in 2001, several local museums pulled out their Graves paintings for memorial shows. But the biggest exhibition wasn’t at Seattle Art Museum or the Museum of Northwest Art: It hung on the walls of a First Hill apartment owned by collector Marshall Hatch. There, Mr. Hatch displayed some 50 choice Graves works in private tribute to an artist he had long championed.

Now Mr. Hatch is gone, too, at the age of 89. He had been in declining health and died Jan. 26 at home, one of Seattle’s most committed supporters of Northwest art. Mr. Hatch was board president of Seattle Art Museum from 1982 to 1986 and was a longtime patron of the Museum of Northwest Art.

“I had enormous admiration for him,” said SAM trustee Virginia Wright. “He led the museum in a very difficult time, and his collection of Northwest art is extraordinary in terms of quality. He had a terrific eye and always had the best examples of all the Northwest artists — and thank God he saw fit to leave the masterpieces to SAM! He was just a great guy, and the museum owes him a lot.”

Mr. Hatch was a Seattle native, a fourth-generation Washingtonian — and proud of it. Born in 1918, he went to Garfield High and was president of the class of 1936. In high school, he met the girl he would later wed, Helen Rupp. They both attended the University of Washington before marrying in 1939. During World War II, Mr. Hatch worked at Todd Shipyard and got to be friends with his co-worker, Jack Kirk. The two went into business together in 1945, founding Hatch & Kirk Diesel Engine Co., Inc., in Ballard. They remained partners until Kirk died in 2001.

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“The business took quite a while to get off the ground,” said Mr. Hatch’s daughter Jeannie Helen Gravenkemper. “They bought a lot of Navy surplus after the war. The government would have auctions, and they bought literally tons and tons and tons of material. My father was very savvy and very good at bidding.” Eventually, the company became quite profitable, she said, selling heavy-duty diesel equipment abroad as well as back to the U.S. government. Mr. Hatch sold the company a few years ago, but just cleaned out his desk there last fall.

Mr. and Mrs. Hatch began buying art in the 1960s, first on a trip to Mexico and then from Pioneer Square art dealer Richard White (whose gallery later became Foster/White). In addition to Graves, they collected Mark Tobey, George Tsutakawa, Guy Anderson, Leo Kenney, Richard Gilkey, Philip McCracken and Duane Pasco. “Marshall was a friend of many of these artists early on,” said former Museum of Northwest Art director Susan Parke. “In the case of Kenney, Marshall helped keep him in food and shelter.”

Mr. Hatch used his considerable clout to help keep the region’s art institutions viable as well. He was president of SAM as the museum geared up for its move downtown, and he served on the selection committee for an architect. At MoNA, Parke says, Hatch was an honorary trustee: “He didn’t really attend meetings, but he made his thoughts known,” she recalled. “He worked with me to develop the museum’s first traveling exhibition ‘Morris Graves: The Early Works.’ He decided this was something we had to do, and he supported it both philosophically and financially.

“I had a lot of fun with Marshall,” Parke continued. “Particularly at the opening of the Early Works show: He was just as pleased as punch about it, and so was I. His early influence and generosity really helped the museum, no doubt about it.”

Mr. Hatch’s wife, Helen, died in 1996. In addition to their daughter Jeannie, Mr. Hatch is survived by daughters Merrily Helen Jantzi and Catherine Anne Hatch-Daniels, as well as eight grandchildren and four great-grandsons. Remembrances can be made to Neighborhood House (905 Spruce St., Seattle, 98104) or the Museum of Northwest Art (P.O. Box 969, La Conner, WA 98257)

Sheila Farr: sfarr@seattletimes.com

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