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Ted Hatch, a member of one of Utah's best known river rafting company families, died this week in Vernal. He was 76.

Hatch was the son of legendary river pioneer Bus Hatch, who founded Hatch River Expeditions and was among the pioneers of Utah's river rafting industry.

When Bus died in 1967, Ted gave up his job as the principal of Manila High School and took over the family business along with his late brother Don. The two split the company 10 years later with Don taking over the Utah operation and Ted running the Grand Canyon operation. His son Steve and daughter-in-law Sarah continue to operate Hatch River Expeditions in the Grand Canyon.

Ted Hatch ran his final river last summer on the Main Salmon River in Idaho where he rowed his own boat and was accompanied by his wife Pat, sons Bruce and Steve and grandchildren.

"He was a fun loving guy who would always do anything for you," said Dee Holladay who founded Salt Lake based Holiday River Expeditions. "I enjoyed his company over the years."

Roy Webb, who wrote a biography of Bus Hatch called "River Man: The Story of Bus Hatch," said Ted Hatch loved the challenge of running the big rapids in the Colorado River.

"What struck me about Ted was that his philosophy was that passengers are a company's bread and butter and you needed to treat them like friends you never met," Webb said. "They had such a loyal clientele that they never had to advertise until just a few years ago."

Others praised Hatch for the active role he played in professional guides association and in working with the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management to win favorable regulations for commercial guides on western rivers. Hatch was also an avid pilot who served on the Utah State Aeronautical Committee.

He is survived by his wife Pat; sons Bruce, of Vernal, and Steve, of Marble Canyon, Ariz.; and daughter Susan Wadley, of Vernal.

Funeral services are scheduled Saturday at Western Park in Vernal with a viewing Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Blackburn Vernal Mortuary.

Utah river rafting pioneer treated passengers like friends