Waynesville, Leon ‟Lee” Hiatt, age 97, was called to his resting place with the Lord on Monday, November 9, 2020 at his home.
He was born March 31, 1923, in Brownstown, Illinois, son of the late Silvanus and Ethel Hiatt. Also preceding Lee in death were his wife, Ida, of 41 years, his wife, Connie, of 26 years of marriage; his daughter, Lisa Beth; son, Steven; eight sisters and four brothers. Succeeding Mr. Hiatt are his three daughters, Linda Estelle, with granddaughter, Jodi Estelle and great-grandson, Jonathan Estelle, grandson, Brad Estelle and his wife, Stephanie, great-grandsons, Roman and Luke Estelle, all of Battle Creek, Michigan, daughter, Lydia Bastian, with her husband, Michael Bastain, grandson, Christopher Bastain, granddaughter, Ashley Duncan, and her husband, Jason Duncan, and great-grandsons, Jayden and Jayceon Duncan; and great-granddaughters, Brooklyn and Kali Duncan, all living in Fayetteville, North Carolina; grandsons, Philip and Aaron Tarver; and youngest daughter, Laurie Hiatt, in Greenville, South Carolina. Also living is sister-in-law, Bertha Hiatt, of Jacksonville, Florida, as well as several nieces and nephews.
Immediately upon graduating from high school, he moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, becoming employed at United Steel and Wire Company who manufactured grocery shopping carts. While there, he was elected an officer in their labor union and subsequently appointed to UAW-CIO council representing union workers in other local manufacturers. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Army in World War II, January, 1943. Remaining until March, 1946, which included upward of 2 years in the South Pacific. Soon after the war ended, and returning home, he joined Clark Equipment Company as a buyer. Following numerous upgrades and being sent by his employer to Western Michigan College for two years, became Purchasing Manager of the Industrial Truck Division with 3500 employees and three plant-corporation and $100 million annual sales. In 1971, he was promoted to the Corporate International Officer in Buchanan, Michigan, who was experiencing tremendous growth and having 32 manufacturing plants in locations throughout North America, South America, the Orient and Australia, with sales of $2 billion dollars and employing 35,000 employees. Having world-wide responsibilities with extensive traveling, he visited all 32 world-wide facilities.
During Mr. Hiatt’s professional years, he enjoyed volunteering which included being President of Dale Carnegie Alumni Association in Battle Creek, President of South Western Chapter of National Association of Purchasing Managers in Kalamazoo, President of Orchard Hills Country Club in Buchanan, President of Saddlebrook Resort and Country Club Property Owners Association in Wesley Chapel Florida, and President of Haywood Regional Medical Center Volunteers, in Clyde, North Carolina. While there, Mr. Hiatt was elected an officer in North Carolina State Hospital Volunteers headquarters in Cary, North Carolina, comprising of 65 hospitals throughout the state. He was District Representative directing volunteer activities in 15 hospitals throughout all of Western North Carolina. Mr. Hiatt was an accomplished musician having performed with groups in Michigan, California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and played over six radio stations. He was also a member of Haywood Regional Medical and Fitness Center as well as a member of Lake Junaluska Golf Club where he played regularly with friends. He was an active member of St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church in Maggie Valley since he became a resident in 1996 moving from the Tampa, Florida area.
During his life, he enjoyed a few unique experiences. Having lunch with Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, having dinner with Jesse Owens, well known athlete who won three gold Olympic medals in 1936 in track held in Germany while Adolph Hitler was in attendance, flew on the well known Concord airplane with wife, Connie, from England to New York in three hours and twenty minutes at speed of 1340 miles per hour, twice the speed of sound at 60,000 feet altitude, having a cruise control installed by friends at General Motors two years prior to it being placed in production, having a surprise visit to his home upon retirement by company executives from France, Germany, Belgium, Canada, brazil, Argentina, Japan and several from various parts of the United States, toured Sweden, several manufacturing companies at the invitation of the Swedish government, toured Japan and South Korea for potential manufacturing agreements, visited all fifty states of the United States.
While enjoying numerous friends and co-workers, his greatest achievement in life was raising a wonderful family whose love could not have been greater.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to American Cancer Society, 120 Executive Park, Building One, Asheville, North Carolina, 28801, or St. Margaret’s of Scotland Catholic Church, P.O. Box 1359, Maggie Valley, North Carolina, 28721.
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American Cancer Society
154 Milestone Way, Greenville SC 29615
St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church
P.O. Box 1359, Maggie Valley NC 28751