Cover photo for O’Mally Jane Hatch's Obituary
O’Mally Jane Hatch Profile Photo
1947 O’Mally 2024

O’Mally Jane Hatch

August 9, 1947 — February 27, 2024

O’Mally Jane Shell Hatch was born on August 9, 1947, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She passed away on February 27, 2024, after an unexpected diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and a rapid decline in her health. Mally was only 76 years of age.

Mally is survived by her daughters, Terrie Dabit, Jennifer Monk(Ellis), and Rebecca Wortham (William); her grandchildren Elias and Samuel Dabit; Zachary (Nicole) and Jacob O’Dell; Joshua, Caleb, and Benjamin Wortham, and Sophi and Liam Monk; her sister, Sally Shell Whitehead, and many extended family members, loyal friends, and “bonus kids” who called her “Mom.” Mally was predeceased by her parents, Freeman Edwin Shell and Reba Taylor Shell; siblings Dr. Edwin Shell, Freeman Shell, Jr. 

Mally met her former husband, Charles Hatch, while studying Speech Pathology and Art Education at Henderson State University, in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. As a devoted military wife, stay-at-home mother, and church and community volunteer, she moved all over the country and Europe, living in Arkansas, Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Virginia, Germany, California, and Alabama. After her divorce in 1984, she went back to college and obtained her bachelor’s degree in education at Jacksonville State University while working as a church secretary and youth choir director, nursing home activities director, and American Red Cross volunteer. After getting her first public school job offer, she moved with her daughters to Decatur, Alabama, and began teaching special education in Morgan and Lawrence Counties. 

As a passionate advocate for education and inclusion, Mally ultimately earned her master’s degree at Alabama A&M University and moved to Madison, Alabama, teaching in both Madison and Huntsville City Schools. She retired from Weatherly Heights Elementary School after over thirty years of teaching. Her influence was vast, leading to all three of her daughters going into education and becoming public school teachers themselves. 

Mally’s immense dedication to education and her students left profound impacts on the lives of hundreds of special needs/emotionally conflicted, gifted, and first-grade students all over the state of Alabama. She was a master teacher with a firm grasp of pedagogy, classroom management, and organization as well as an intuitive sense of compassion and empathy. She was constantly gathering supplies and providing lesson plans to colleagues in need and the great majority of her students (and their parents) kept in touch with her until her death. 

As a special education teacher, she was a knowledgeable, passionate advocate for her students and all children. When one of her students needed a temporary home, she took courses and became certified as a therapeutic foster parent and provided safety and love to many. When some of her grandsons were born with special and other medical needs, her advocacy became even more intense, and she served as an IEP liaison, academic and behavioral mentor, and tutor throughout retirement. 

Outside of the classroom, Mally was a giving and fun-spirited soul who was passionate about her hobbies. She loved to experience new cultures through entertainment and travel, joining several multicultural social circles, inviting newcomers from other countries into her home, hosting foreign exchange students, and taking road trips or flying all over the country and world with her daughters, friends, or by herself. She became so close with the people she met that many of them refer to her as their “American Mom.” One family flew her to India so she could be honored during their 3-day wedding ceremony. 

Another family from Russia gave her guardianship of their daughter, who was studying abroad in America, and celebrated her as a “Second Mom.” Mally loved to host international students and teachers and enjoyed partaking in tea ceremonies with her partner teacher from Japan. She also kept in close contact with extended family from her childhood hometown, Hamburg, Arkansas, and often visited her older brother, Dr. Edwin Shell, in Bossier City, Louisiana, and niece, Sally Sue Shell, in Grand Junction, Colorado. 

Mally also made many long-lasting connections through music. She was taught piano and violin at a very young age and performed with many youth, community, and state orchestras throughout the South. She followed in the footsteps of her mother by involving her daughters in piano and violin at a very young age and teaching private piano lessons in her home everywhere she lived. It wasn’t uncommon for base commanders to share her credentials and contact information with military families and for her to have a student load of 50+ students per week. 

She was also recruited on multiple military bases as a chapel pianist, choir director, and cantata arranger. As a devoted Christian, she was passionate about sharing God’s grace and wrote, arranged, or directed “There is Love,” “God’s Got an Army,” and “Barbeque for Ben” for Patrick Henry Village Chapel Choirs in Heidelberg, Germany. She arranged and/or directed many seasonal or youth programs for First Baptist Church in Hamburg, Arkansas, and Church of the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Anniston, Alabama.

After retirement, she taught violin with the Madison City Youth Orchestra and piano in her home studio, All Under One Roof. She was thrilled that her daughters and most of her grandchildren learned to play musical instruments and found solace through music, and she often asked them to perform as guest soloists for her recitals. Mally taught piano up until one week before her death, telling everyone that “music is the best medicine.” We believe she also realized the gift of friendship she was given when so many students and their parents entered her home each week. She dedicated two entire rooms in her house to her students and their siblings. In one room she provided toys and video games for siblings waiting for their turn at the piano and in the other, she showcased her vast collection of green M&Ms and allowed her students to choose one before her passing. 

Mally also shared love with others through her other great passions: cooking and crafts. She often said her love language was sharing food, and she crafted daily. She prepared hearty, healthy meals and insisted on using her blue and white chinadaily with her children. She also hosted dinner parties for officers and their wives and served on care committees on bases and in schools all over, providing nourishment and crafted cards to new mothers, sick colleagues, and others in need. Her closets and garage are filled with craft supplies, and her bookshelves contain more cookbooks than any other type. She regularly jotted down new or interesting recipes in spiral notebooks every time she found them. 

She learned how to incorporate spices from relatives and “bonus kids” from Jordan, &Korea, India, and Japan, and she perfected the art of baking bread and pastries from her relatives and friends in Germany, Belgium, and England. After retirement, she volunteered with a local bakery, Peaceful Pastries and Sweets, started by one of her grandsons whom she helped teach to bake. Mally was quick to prepare her mother’s award-winning poundcake or stir up some Chex Mix and share it with her students, friends, doctors, and neighbors. Even after her death, her family learned from multiple neighbors how she was “the pantry of the city, providing weeks of homemade freezer meals and canned goods to those recovering from surgery, enduring chemo, or otherwise in need.” Her dresser held a box of handmade greeting cards, waiting to be sent as pick-me-ups to those who needed comfort.

Mally was the embodiment of service, sharing her gifts with others even through her death. Her legacy of kindness and spirit of volunteerism and advocacy will continue to be experienced by all who knew and loved her. Even at the end, she found a way to care for her family members surrounding her bedside, raising her arms to conduct, mouthing the words to hymns and prayers, forming hilarious hand gestures, and making us all laugh through our tears. She will be remembered for her dedication to her children, students, and community and her fervor for life and all its opportunities. 

Mally’s departure comes as a great shock and a deep wound, and it is gravely felt by her daughters, grandchildren, and countless others who loved her deeply in her wide network of community. Her family appreciates your support during this difficult time and asks that you make contributions to Hospice of the Valley at 240 Johnston Street SW, Decatur, AL 35601, (256) 350-5585, or any local public school in place of flowers. 

You can also contribute by sharing memories of our beloved Mally/Mama/Grandma/Bonus Mom on her memorial website at Legacy Funeral Home and/or at her Celebration of Life on Sunday, March 10, at 4:00 pm, at Haven Baptist Church, 1840 Slaughter Road, Madison, Alabama. Dress is casual; feel free to wear Mally’s favorite colors: purple or green. You’re welcome to bring a tray of finger foods or sweet treats to share in her honor!

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of O’Mally Jane Hatch, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Starts at 4:00 pm (Central time)

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