Bert Hatten

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Walter Bertram "Bert" Hatten

Mayor of West Monroe, Louisiana, USA
In office
July 1, 1966 – June 30, 1978
Preceded by J. Allen Norris
Succeeded by Dave Norris (not related to J. Allen Norris)

Born March 9, 1927
Sikes, Winn Parish, Louisiana
Died May 22, 2023 (aged 96)
West Monroe, Louisiana
Political party Democrat-turned-Independent
Spouse(s) Mary Ann Henderson Hatten (1933-2017)[1]
Children Beth Hatten Hinton

Catherine Olivia Hatten
Sarah Jill Hatten Maxwell
Three grandchildren

Residence West Monroe, Louisiana
Alma mater Ouachita Parish High School

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Occupation Retired newspaperman


Walter Bertram Hatten, known as Bert Hatten (born March 9, 1927 – May 22, 2023),[2] was a newspaperman who served for three terms as the mayor of West Monroe in Ouachita Parish in north Louisiana, a position which he filled as a Democratic Party from 1966 to 1978. He is perhaps best known for his editorial column, "Inside Straight," in The Ouachita Citizen, a weekly in West Monroe.


Hatten was born in Sikes in Winn Parish to William Earl Hatten and the former Pina Head. The Hattens moved to West Monroe in 1940. There in 1945, he graduated from Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe. At the age of seventeen, Hatten entered the United States Merchant Marine during World War II and served for three years. When the war ended, he was aboard the USS Grove City Victory, which was anchored in Tokyo Bay near the USS Missouri, on which General Douglas MacArthur accepted the formal surrender of Japan on V-J Day in 1945. Upon his return from the war, Hatten continued his education at Northeast Junior College, now the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Journalism career

Hatten's career as a journalist began in 1948, when he was attending college. He joined the reporting staff at the former Monroe Morning World. He remained at the News-Star World for fifteen years. By the middle 1950s, before he was thirty, Hatten was the managing editor The Morning World, since merged into the Monroe News Star. In 1956, he hired Samuel Andrew "Sam" Hanna, Sr., subsequently an award-winning journalist and newspaper entrepreneur in his own right, as an outdoor writer for The Morning World. By 1963, Hatten had left the Monroe newspapers to enter the insurance business.[3]

On January 1, 1965, Hatten purchased The Ouachita Citizen from the families of Lee Hawkins, Amos Hood, and Dewitt Henry. He penned "Inside Straight", an editorial column focused on the people, places and events in Ouachita Parish. The Ouachita Citizen, a weekly newspaper, began in 1924 as the West Monroe Churchman. He published The Citizen for twenty-one years. Hatten's daughter Beth handled the operations of the business. In 1986, Hatten sold The Ouachita Citizen to Robert E. "Bob" Barton, an employee of The Ruston Daily Leader in Ruston in Lincoln Parish. After his time in West Monroe, Barton purchased The Bossier Press-Tribune in Bossier City. In 1995, he was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives for Bossier Parish and served one term in the chamber[4] but then lost a race for the state Senate.

In 1996, Hatten resumed ownership of The Ouachita Citizen but quickly sold to Sam Hanna, Sr., and Hanna's son, Sam Hanna, Jr. (born 1969) of Monroe, the current publisher of the newspaper.[5][6]

Political life

In 1963, Hatten was heavily involved in the campaign to return former Governor Robert F. Kennon to the state's highest office. Kennon, a conservative Democrat who served as governor from 1952 to 1956, was eliminated in the primary election held on December 7, just two weeks after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Kennon had run as an anti-Kennedy candidate in what turned out to have been the former governor's last campaign.[3]

On June 14, 1966, Hatten was handily elected mayor of West Monroe to succeed fellow Democrat J. Allen Norris, who served from 1952 to 1966. He defeated the Republican candidate, William Green "Billy" Haynes, Jr. (1912-1984),[7] also a West Monroe insurance agent, 2,490 votes (68 percent) to 1,171 (32 percent).[8] Five Democrats were elected with Hatten to serve on the city council. One of those aldermen, Charles Anding, a trade union official, was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1987 from District 15, which encompasses West Monroe. Another alderman, Truett Thorn,[9] was a coach at West Monroe High School[10] and the older brother of the Louisiana journalist and gubernatorial press secretary Dale Thorn, another alumnus of the Monroe newspapers.[11] Altogether, Hatten served with twelve city council members, all men.[12]

Hatten often joked that his only experience in municipal government prior to his election as mayor had been in covering city council meetings for the Monroe newspapers. He hence relied on advice from seasoned mayors, William Lorenzo "Jack" Howard (1921-2004) of his sister city of Monroe and Clyde Fant of Shreveport. Hatten noted that Monroe and West Monroe, separated by the Ouachita River, never developed the animosity sometimes associated with other twin cities but instead took pride in the strength of each other.[12]

During his tenure as mayor, Hatten oversaw the rebuilding of every street in West Monroe and the upgrading of the water and sewer systems, including the installation of the first sewage treatment plant. He also worked to upgrade the West Monroe Fire and Police departments and to construct Downing Pines Industrial Park, He supported the establishment of the West Ouachita Industrial Park. Under his administration a modern City Hall, Corrections Center and Convention Center were built on the former site of the Ouachita Valley Fair Grounds located on North Seventh Street. The new city complex was completed during the last days of the Hatten administration. He never occupied the new facility, at which his successor, Dave Noel Norris, Sr., was sworn in and began a long period of service in the position.

In 1971, West Monroe streamlined its municipal charter and expanded the powers of the mayor. Under Hatten's tutelage, the city constructed a new City Hall, police department, jail, and convention center on the former Ouachita Valley Fairgrounds.[13]The West Monroe justice complex is modeled after a plan developed for the needs of smaller cities by the University of Illinois. West Monroe was the first municipality to follow this particular model.[12]

In 1998, in a series of articles written for The Ouachita Citizen, which reflect on his time as mayor, Hatten said that he had received invaluable support from the general public as well as volunteers who helped to make city programs succeed. Hatten said that he has often received credit that should have been shared with others.[12]In 1978, Hatten did not seek a fourth term as mayor and was succeeded by fellow Democrat Dave Norris, who was then a professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, who remains mayor and was unopposed in 2014 for a tenth four-year term.[14] Hatten and Norris are virtually the only mayors of which the citizens of West Monroe have a collective memory. Since 1952, there have been only three mayors of West Monroe; from that time since, however, there have been thirteen U.S. presidents.

Along with State Representative Shady Wall, who was married to the former Lallage Feazel, Hatten was a member of the first board of advisors of the Twin City Ballet Company, a regional dance entity that fosters community enrichment.[15] At some point after leaving the mayor's office, Hatten changed his registration from Democrat to Independent.In 2002, he was a donor to the unsuccessful campaign of Republican John Cooksey of Monroe, then the U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 5th congressional district, who failed in a bid that year to unseat Democrat U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and lost his House seat in the process.[16]Hatten was later the secretary-treasurer of Health In Government, Inc., in West Monroe.[17]

Memberships and awards

Hatten served as president of the West Monroe Chamber of Commerce and was the recipient in 1962 of the Junior Chamber International "Young Man of the Year Award". He is a member of the West Monroe Masonic Lodge No. 419, 32nd degree Scottish Rite and York Rite Bodies and Barak Shrine Temple. In 2022, Hatten, along with his friend, former Monroe Mayor W. L. "Jack" Howard, were inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield; Hatten the year prior to his death, and Howard, posthumously.[18]


Hatten died in West Monroe in the spring of 2023 at the age of ninety-six.[2]

See also

  • Staci Albritton Mitchell, first Republican and first woman mayor of West Monroe, elected in 2018 and endorsed by Bert Hatten.


  1. Mary Ann Hatten. Monroe News Star (December 31, 2017). Retrieved on February 6, 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ian Robinson (May 22, 2023). Former West Monroe Mayor Bert Hatten dies. Monroe News Star. Retrieved on May 23, 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sam Hanna, Jr.: One fateful day in Dallas, November 20, 2013. The Ouachita Citizen. Retrieved on May 22, 2014.
  4. Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2020. Retrieved on June 25, 2018.
  5. About the Ouachita Citizen. Retrieved on May 22, 2014.
  6. The Hanna family also owns and operates the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday/Vidalia and the Franklin Sun in Winnsboro, Louisiana, the birthplace of Sam Hanna, Sr.
  7. William Green Haynes, Jr.. Retrieved on May 22, 2014.
  8. On February 1, 1972, W. G. "Billy" Haynes, Jr., a pioneer of the Louisiana Republican Party, ran for state insurance commissioner but was overwhelmed by the Democrat Sherman Albert Bernard, Sr. (1925-2012) of Jefferson Parish.
  9. Lake Charles American Press, June 15, 1966, p. 10.
  10. West Monroe High School (Class of 1983). Retrieved on May 17, 2014.
  11. Jesse Dale Thorn. The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved on May 17, 2014.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Bert Hatten: Neighborly relations remembered, 1998. The Ouachita Citizen. Retrieved on May 22, 2014.
  13. Gordon E. Harvey, Historic Ouachita Parish: An Illustrated History. HPN Books, 2007, p. 44. Retrieved on October 29, 2013. 
  14. West Monroe Mayor Norris to deliver commencement at ULM. Monroe News Star (April 25, 2014). Retrieved on May 22, 2014.
  15. Celebrating 40 Years: Twin City Ballet Company: A Gathering of Dancers, August 3, 2009. The Monroe News-Star. Retrieved on May 22, 2014.
  16. WEST-MONROE, Louisiana (LA) Political Contributions by Individuals. Retrieved on May 22, 2014.
  17. W. Bert Hatten In West Monroe. Retrieved on May 22, 2014.
  18. Inductees of the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame.