W.D. Hatton Watch, Clock, and Jewelry Repair will be closing soon after being in business on West Main Street in Middletown for 69 years.
William Dean Hatton, who owns the business with his wife, Jeanne, has decided to retire because the workload has become too much and because of his age, 94 years old.
During those years, Hatton has always been on West Main Street where he first started by renting space near the Everett Theatre. And then he moved near the Transcript on West Main Street. In the 1960s, he moved again into the store across the street where he is now, and he bought the building.
He’s in the process of selling the building to Clark Construction. In two weeks, he plans to sell the store’s contents, which include old clocks, jewelry, watch bands, and equipment. An exact move out date hasn’t been set.
The hours are posted for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but he was coming in six days a week because of the workload, which was mostly repairs to watches, clocks and jewelry. Right now, he’s open on just Saturdays.
“It wasn’t because business was slowing. It was continuous. Sales were going up. I just got pretty old and got tired – too much repairs,” he said.
“It was like a strain on him,” said his wife.
These days his watch business has come down to replacing the batteries. He used to repair watches, but he had to give it up because of poor eyesight. For repairs, he had to take the parts out of the watch, clean the parts, and put them back in, but he couldn’t do that anymore.
At one point, his business used to sell watches, clocks, jewelry, china, crystal and silverware. But he stopped some of that business in 1993 in order to concentrate on repairs.
“I’m ready to retire,” he said. “I can go back to painting pictures and I have a garden if I can keep it up.”
He started the business after serving in the U.S. Navy for almost three years during World War II. In the European theater, he served on a destroyer involved in D-Day and the southern France attack. Also, the destroyer swept mines out of the Yellow Sea.
Mrs. Hatton retired in 1993 after teaching music for 22 years in the Appoquinimink School District. She’s originally from Wilmington, but she moved with her husband in 1950 to Odessa and they’ve been living there ever since. For almost 65 years, she’s been the organist at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Odessa.
Hatton and his wife have been married for 72 years. They have three children, Sally, Susan and Sheri and have one grandson, Will.