Raymond McHatton was the kind of person men enjoyed serving under because he provided such great leadership skills, says Thomson Fire Chief Rick Sewell.
"He was a great leader," said Chief Sewell of his former boss, who recently passed away at the age of 75. Chief McHatton was the city's first paid fire chief and is responsible for having turned the city's all-volunteer fire department into one that now offers both full-time paid and volunteer firefighters. "He taught me and a lot of others on this fire department how to be professional and to be good leaders."
Chief McHatton served as the city fire chief for 25 years, retiring in 1997. His successor was Chief Sewell.
"We shared a great working relationship and friendship," said Chief Sewell during an in-depth interview with The McDuffie Mirror . "When he made a commitment to something, it was full-speed ahead."
Chief Sewell, who started out as a volunteer with the Thomson Fire Department in 1969, later became a full-time firefighter in the mid 70s for about two years. He returned to the fire department in 1984, working part-time. In 1991, Chief Sewell said he was asked by Chief McHatton to become the fire department's inspector/investigator -- a position he accepted.
"I really appreciate Chief McHatton believing in me back then," said Chief Sewell. "He gave me many, many opportunities to further my education and to prepare myself to be in contention for his job someday. He allowed me to learn and progress in my career. I give him most of the credit for being where I am today."
Chief McHatton made great strides as the fire chief in Thomson, said Chief Sewell.
In addition to Chief McHatton being a fine fire chief and always professional, Chief Sewell said, "he also was a good family man enjoyed being around fellow firefighters and other friends. He was an excellent manager and a great organizer. He also was a good boss."