Victor L. Hatem of Salem, New Hampshire, passed away at age 91 on January 2, 2021, three months after his beloved wife of over 62 years, Grace S. Hatem.
Victor was born in Methuen, Massachusetts on April 29, 1929, the youngest of four children of Choukri and Emily Hatem, who were originally from Hammana, Lebanon. Vic spoke only Arabic until he went to elementary school at St. Augustine’s Elementary School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In 1946, he graduated from Central Catholic High School in Lawrence. Like his older brother, Victor commuted to Boston College, which then served primarily immigrant Catholic students. His years there were the beginning of a lifelong passion for all things BC.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in business in 1950, Victor attended Boston College Law School for one year. Due to the Korean War, he applied to and was accepted at the US Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. Victor was commissioned an Ensign and later rose to Lieutenant (Junior Grade). He was discharged from active service in 1954 after three years in the Pacific on the repair ship USS Askari (ARL-30) and continued to serve in the US Naval Reserve until 1967.
Upon active service discharge, Victor resumed his studies at BC Law School and received his degree in 1956. That same year he purchased his first set of season tickets for Boston College football. Victor held his seats for over sixty years, sharing the fun of tailgating and watching the games with generations of friends and family!
About the same time, Victor became interested in the young woman who would become the love of his life, Grace Ataide. Grace lived on the same street as the Hatems and had cared for Victor’s sister’s children during their mother’s illness and untimely death. Grace also worked at Victor’s father’s business, the Supreme Cleaners, in Lawrence. When he expressed interest in this beautiful, young family friend, his father said, “Victor, you can’t even take her out on a date unless you are serious about her.” Grace and Vic married on August 17, 1958, and had five sons in six years. In 1968, having outgrown their small ranch in Methuen, the family moved to a larger home in Salem, NH. As the boys grew, he became very active in supporting their local parish schools.
Meanwhile, Victor had opened a law office in Lawrence with his lifelong friend, Attorney Urville Beaumont, and, for a time, served as a Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General in the early 1960’s under Attorney General Edward Brooke. In addition, Victor invested in real estate in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He helped develop shopping centers in Methuen, Fall River, Exeter, Laconia, Gilford, Rochester, Gorham and Littleton with several friends and business partners.
In 1961, Victor made an investment in a small, rural motor inn on Lake Winnipesaukee in Gilford, NH with his friend Joe Mahoney, then a reporter at the Lawrence Eagle Tribune. Victor, Joe, and Phil Moran, another lifelong friend, spotted the for-sale sign from the water on one of their many sailing trips to the lake. Phil had known Winnipesaukee from his time as a child at Camp Lawrence, which was affiliated with the Lawrence YMCA. A few years later, Victor and Grace built a small cottage on some of the former motor inn land. The cottage on Chanticleer Shores became their favorite place on the planet. It would not be an exaggeration to say that that investment yielded family friendships with hundreds of people over the next 60 years.
In 1972, Victor moved his practice from Lawrence to a new office building that he and a partner were constructing in North Andover, Massachusetts. Four years later, Joe Mahoney stopped writing and editing for newspapers, and went to law school. The law firm of Hatem and Mahoney was born in 1976 and would last until 2009. In 1982, Hatem and Mahoney moved to 127 Turnpike Street in North Andover.
Victor loved skiing (doing so into his mid- 80’s), sailing, tennis, and golfing. In addition, in 1980, he and Joe decided to become licensed pilots and purchased a 4-seat airplane, a Cessna 182, N20975. The two flew all over the US and Canada, often combining their love of flying with their love of BC football.
In late November, 1984, Victor and Grace traveled to Miami to watch BC play then-reigning national college champs, the University of Miami. In person, in the Orange Bowl, Vic witnessed what is often called one of the greatest plays ever in college football: Doug Flutie rolling right, towards where Vic was sitting, and uncorking a 60+yard pass to Gerard Phelan. The ball disappeared from view behind the crowd of players in the end zone, but Vic saw what he hoped to see, the referee’s upstretched arms signaling “TOUCHDOWN”! Over burgers and beers after the game, Victor pronounced, “I don’t think we will ever see a football game like that one!”
Victor was a member of the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Bar Associations and was admitted to practice in the federal courts in both states. He served on numerous boards and non-profits including the the Greater Lawrence Chamber of Commerce (where he met many of his Chanticleer co-developers and neighbors), the Salem (NH) Planning Board, the Knights of Columbus and the Board of Trustees of the Nevins Home for the Aged and Incurable in Methuen.
Victor is survived by his sons, their partners, and thirteen grandchildren whom he cherished: Peter Hatem and Kim Fowler of Scarborough, Maine, and Peter’s children Matthew and Olivia; James and Susan Hatem of Bow, NH and children Cali, Emile, Elias and Evelyn; Daniel Hatem of Londonderry, NH and children Emily and Trevor; John and Cindy Hatem of El Cerrito, CA and daughters Evelyn and Meredith; and William and Kira Hatem of Bedford, NH and daughters Meghan, Taylor and Jordan. He is also survived by dear cousins Kathryn Moran and Maurice and Maryann Hatem, his sister-in-law Fernanda Ataide, his sister’s children Russell Samia, Christine Downall, and Charline Mahoney, and numerous other nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends, many of whom would gather at Victor and Grace’s Christmas parties in Salem or at the lake.
Victor was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, his brothers Alphonse and Herbert, his sister Laurece, and his daughter-in-law Patricia Hatem, Dan’s wife.
Due to Covid, the Rite of Committal will be private. A celebration of Victor’s life will be scheduled in the spring or summer when we can all safely be together.
Victor’s family suggests that memorials or donations be made to the church where Vic and Grace were married and where all their sons were baptized: St. Anthony’s Maronite Church, 145 Amesbury Street, Lawrence, Massachusetts 01841.
Arrangements are by the Goundrey & Dewhirst Funeral Home, 42 Main St., Salem, NH. To leave an online condolence, please visit Victor’s tribute page at www.goundreydewhirstfuneral.com.
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