How do you encapsulate how one person changed your life forever in one post on a GoFundMe? Today, I find myself in that position. Today, we lost some one I personally, as well as many others, considered a teacher, a mentor, a friend, colleague, and parent. Greg Hatcher devoted his life to teaching art, writing, creating stories and comics, and creating safe spaces for kids who may have not had a place to go. He always told us kids as we were growing up that he’d never be rich in money, but he was rich in joy and happiness. Greg sacrificed so much and fought so hard to maintain arts in schools, providing opportunities for kids and teens to explore themselves as creators, to introduce them to professionals in the comic industry, to make sure every kid he taught knew that an adult cared for them. He and his wife, Julie, never questioned when one their “kids” needed support, going above and beyond to provide whatever they could… they both were like parents that many of us needed. I met Greg when I was eleven and struggling with figuring out who I was, my rocky homelife, and my own mental health. I am in my thirties now and looking back, there is so much I can thank Greg for teaching and supporting me as I became the person I am today, and there are many others who feel the same as one of the “kids,” the “Hatchlings,” and as friends and loved ones. There isn’t a person who knew Greg and Julie who have not felt like in at the very least, some small way, that they brought light into their life. For me, Greg’s presence was in many ways life changing. Greg didn’t have to be there for me, for anyone, but he was, and he never wavered.
Greg’s wife, Julie, was the love of his life. Through thick and thin, their home was filled with love, laughter, books, and dreams. Together, Julie joined Greg in his pursuit of building programs for kids, providing a safe place, and being a safe person. You will never find anyone as sweet, kind, and nurturing as Julie. It doesn’t matter who you are or the life you walked, she is filled with grace and kindness. Together, they were inseparable, you didn’t think of Greg without Julie, nor Julie without Greg. I am not one for believing in soulmates, but, I make the exception for them. When it was found that Julie had cancer, Greg continued to teach but also took on more work to support his wife to make ends meet. Also being a Type 1 diabetic, Julie’s health and wellbeing has always been something that Greg advocated for. They made it through, with support from their community who loves them, and Julie won. Things were tight for them, but Greg was confident they would pull through, just as they have always done. …But then, Greg became sick. The pandemic had hit, and Greg was unable to teach due to quarantine. Greg was diagnosed with cancer and continued to support his wife and their home as a specialized driver while navigating the disability system to help Julie who is no longer able to work, and the medical system as Greg’s cancer kept him in and out of the ICU and hospital over the last year.
I am forever grateful that, during one of the brief moments Greg was out of the hospital, he and Julie came to spend a day with me, to meet my child, their first baby “grand-nerd,” and once again, I watched Greg open the doors to the world he loved of comics, heroes, and stories as he bestowed books to my child, showing him each one, telling him all about them—many of which were Greg’s favorites growing up. He and Asher bonded over Aquaman, Tarzan, and the heroes that inspired all of us.
This story is about a man who played such an important role to me, but this GoFundMe is for his wife, a surrogate mom to many, as she learns to live her life without the man she thought she would never live without. With Greg being the sole provider before his cancer worsened, Julie is left with medical bills from both of their fights with cancer, home bills (such as rent, food, self care), and costs for Greg to be laid to rest. This is for the woman who deserves every happiness, a woman who saved just as many lost kids as her husband did, a woman who taught kindness, forgiveness, and was always full of laughter. I want to take Julie’s pain away, to make sure that Greg's bride is taken care of, and in some way, I hope this helps take away the stress so that she can grieve her love in peace.