Before their legacy fund was created in 2020 at the Community Foundation, Lang and Nini Hatcher’s story began nearly 80 years ago. They grew up next door to each other, married and proceeded to spend decades together happily raising their children and caring for their community. Formally known as John Pierrepont Langford Hatcher and Cornelia Wayland-Smith Hatcher, they were both descendants of two prominent families of the Oneida Community Mansion House, which later formed Oneida, Ltd., the globally-known manufacturer of Oneida silverware. With the Oneida Community Mansion House being central to their lives, Lang chose to create the John Pierrepont Langford & Cornelia Hatcher Fund through a bequest which will support the Mansion House for years to come.
Lang Hatcher was a well-known presence in Oneida, but not just because of his family ties. He was highly educated, had a steel-trap memory and was meticulous in any endeavor. Lang’s curiosity led him to become an expert in subjects ranging from history to New York State geology, and beyond. Nini always noted that Lang wanted to do the best he could. Whether it was pulling the creeping Veronica weeds out of his yard, advising the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Colgate, or his work at Oneida, Ltd., he gave it his full attention. Lang was a source of good advice, which he patiently offered even if it had not been accepted in the past. And, he always had a project. “One time, dad was determined to re-route a creek to save a Black Maple on the banks of the Oneida Creek. He grabbed me and another relative and we must’ve moved hundreds of rocks around to change the water flow. You know, in the end, it was hopeless,” remembered Joe, laughing.
Lang was born in Saratoga Springs, NY before moving to Oneida. He graduated from Colgate University in 1954, joined the U.S. Army and later attended the Wharton School of Business where he earned an MBA in 1958. After working at the McCann-Erickson Advertising company in New York City for several years, he returned home to Oneida and joined the family business, Oneida, Ltd. At Oneida, Ltd., he held many positions including managing director of UK Operations in Bangor, Northern Ireland and later in London. He retired in 1995. Lang was actively engaged as a member of the Colgate Alumni Corporation Board of Directors. He also served as the head of the Oneida Community Mansion House’s board and spent time on the boards of the Crouse Community Center in Morrisville, the Oneida City Planning Commission and the Oneida Area Arts Council.
Nini Wayland-Smith Hatcher was a kind, thoughtful and loving person who never shied away from a charitable request. From spending many hours volunteering at the Hazel L. Carpenter Adult Home, an assisted living community in Oneida, to serving on the board of Planned Parenthood for over 30 years, Nini was always busy. But she was never too busy to be a great mom. On one occasion, her son remembered a family hike in New Hampshire. He was young and couldn’t keep up, so he and Nini just sat on a rock, tossed pebbles and chatted about nothing in particular. Despite the simplicity of this memory, it sheds light on Nini’s patient and caring demeanor. Many years later, Joe returned to that same rock and relished in the memory all over again.
Both Lang and Nini loved to read. While Nini preferred works of fiction, Lang enjoyed historical accounts. One of his college professors remarked, “Why read novels when you can read history? You’ve got better characters and it’s all true.” Lang took that to heart and held a great deal of historical information about his family, Oneida Ltd. and the mansion house. The Hatchers imparted wisdom through the Mansion House library where Nini kept abreast of the New York Times Sunday Book Reviews and ordered current affairs magazines for the patrons of the Mansion House and the surrounding community. Always thoughtful, Lang cut out and mailed articles on subjects of interest to friends and family, while Nini preferred emailing poems to her children with a note that she was thinking of them.
Later, Lang created his own historical memoir and thereby penned, “Oneida (Community) Ltd.: A Goodly Heritage Gone Wrong,” published in 2017. Regarding the book and his father’s legacy, Joe remarked, “He would want to be remembered as someone who really had the community and Oneida, Ltd.’s best interests at heart.”
After Nini’s passing, Lang contacted the family’s trust and estate attorney, Jim Mackin. Jim, who was born in Sherrill, NY and very familiar with the nearby Mansion House, suggested creating a fund at the Community Foundation as the perfect way to manage his bequest and help preserve the legacy of the Oneida Community and the Mansion House.
After doing thorough research, Lang set plans in motion to establish a donor-advised fund as part of his estate plans: The John Pierrepont Langford & Cornelia Hatcher Fund. Their fund will be administered by their four children who will be able to make meaningful gifts to their parents’ favorite causes in a flexible manner. Mackin noted, “The fund will be used to maintain the Mansion House for many years to come, preserving the legacies of not only Lang and Nini, but their ancestors as well.” Lang Hatcher later passed away on September 25, 2020.
“They were sensationally good parents,” Joe remarked. Lang and Nini will both be remembered fondly by their family as kind, patient caregivers who loved each other, their family and their community with every fiber of their beings.