How a Grandfather Survived Agonizing Losses
and Began a New Life as a Single Parent
by Don Hatfield
few years ago, 64-year-old Don Hatfield of Napa, California was looking forward
to a natural slowdown in life with his beloved wife Janey while he continued a successful
art career as a modern American Impressionist painter. But Janey passed away
from cancer in January of 2012. One month after her funeral, Don received the
agonizing news that his beautiful daughter Rachel, the mother of three young
children, had been brutally slain by her husband, Todd Winkler.
another week, he found himself taking sole custody of Rachel’s kids.
tragic and sensational story of Rachel’s killing led to eight stories in the
Sacramento Bee (http://www.sacbee.com/search/?q=don+hatfield)
and a Pulitzer-nominated photo essay portraying Don and his new family by Bee
photographer Renee C. Byer. This story has already had a one-hour treatment
from CBS’ 48 Hours (http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/the-two-faces-of-todd-winkler/)
, and in the spring and summer of 2015 will also be reported by NBC’s Dateline
and ABC’s 20/20. While it’s not unusual for sensational crime stories to
receive some network coverage, it’s rare when all three major networks feature the
And that’s because there is far more
to this story than a brutal killing. It also provides a glimpse into a new
generational phenomenon of elder parenting –
and it revolves around the unique character and courage of Don Hatfield.
recently reported that up to ten percent of American children now live in the
same household as their grandparents. In many cases, the seniors are the
primary caretakers. A plain-spoken, born-again Christian who graduated from
Fuller Theological Seminary, Don Hatfield is the first to proclaim that “I’m
not a saint.” But many people would wonder how anyone but a saint could rise to
the challenge of parenting three youngsters after staggering losses while
“grieving on the fly,” as Don puts it.
in the Face of Murder, Don will tell the whole story of his stunning late-stage
change of life, beginning with a portrayal of his relationship to his daughter
Rachel, her killing and the subsequent trial leading to her husband’s
conviction, and an intimate portrait of how he manages life as a single parent
while also trying to keep his art career going. Don will also offer what many
victims of crime cannot: a thoughtful religious perspective on how the key
spiritual values of faith and forgiveness can enable anyone to surmount the
seemingly impossible challenges that life may present to anyone at any moment.
Hatfield’s story will be skillfully organized and presented by veteran author
D. Patrick Miller, author of two books on popular spirituality currently
available from Random House and Tarcher-Penguin. Miller is also the founder of
his own press, Fearless Books, and
has previously ghostwritten, collaborated, and edited scores of books for both
major and independent houses. His resume is available on request to any
Hatfield’s website: D.
Patrick Miller’s website
I just did a three hour interview with Keith Morrison, the talking head with Dateline. They will air it in the Spring. I don't quite get what they are up to after CBS did their 48Hour thing. Also 20/20 will do a one hour TV presentation as well--that covers all three major networks. I think they are going to focus more on Rachel instead of her killer's slapping head "...you are no bushito.." caper in the courtroom. This media coverage is bringing attention to my art and has brought in money for Rachel's Children's Fund using the GOFUNDME app. The money goes directly to St. John's Lutheran School, a prestigious private school that has become Holy Ground for the kids. The tuition is substantial, but so worth it--the support they get there is incredible! Eva is in first grade, Ariel in kindergarten, and Alex in pre-school. About 5 families have "adopted" the kids as their own and seem to follow in Rachel's mothering path--a miracle really.
Did this 35 years ago--probably the best piece I ever did. Lost track of it--a dirty old slide representation is all that is left. Would love to know where it is today. If anybody out there knows--please let me know--I want to take a digital picture of the original for my upcoming 200 page 11by14 coffee table book to be published in 2064.
ALL PROCEEDS GO DIRECTLY TO RACHEL'S CHILDREN'S FUND WHERE THEY WILL BE USED TO COVER EDUCATION COSTS:
Eva (2nd grade), Ariel (kindergarten), and Alex (pre-school) are all attending the prestigious St. John's Lutheran School in Napa, CA. The cost is considerable, but they are loved and supported there beyond measure. I have full time paid assistance at home and the kids are prospering. They are experiencing the full range of kid culture here in Napa minus their natural parents. I am completely embedded in their lives, and I love it! I want to provide them with every benefit I can.