Teddie and Brad Hathaway: From Beltway Bureaucracy to Artistic Second Lives by the Bay

Brad and Teddie at home on East Pier  |  photo and post by Christina Leimer

In May, we walked up the dock to Teddie and Brad Hathaway’s floating home at 30 East Pier to see Teddie’s glass art. She’d opened her studio for the Marin Open Studios Tour. As we talked, by a wall of blue and green textured glass sky and bayscapes, Brad dropped by. Just long enough to offer to bring Teddie tea. They’ve been married 43 years, she told us. They met when they worked on Capitol Hill.

For most of her work life, Teddie managed the office finances for several U.S. Congress members. Brad staffed House committees. Later, he moved to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) where he reviewed programs to determine if they were well-administered and accomplishing goals within budget. If you still think the government paid too much for a space shuttle toilet, talk to Brad. He did the review during that 1990s controversy. “It wasn’t overpriced,” he says, smiling. “It’s hard to figure out how to handle zero gravity defecation.” He was also investigating NASA programs when the Challenger blew up.

Teddie and Brad were both on The Hill during the 1970s—a time Brad compares to today in terms of its divisiveness. “It was the peak of the anti-Vietnam War movement and Watergate,” he explains. “I remember protesters on opposite sides of the street, the police keeping the two sides apart because of the possibility of violence.” Teddie experienced it too. “I came to work one day and there were national guardsmen stationed all around the building and crowds of people everywhere. It was really scary.”

Capitol Hill finance to artist? I wondered how that happened. Turns out, both Teddie and Brad exercise their artistic side.

Teddie’s art started as a post-retirement hobby but morphed into a profession. “I took a lot of art classes—painting, drawing, glass blowing, neon gas making where you pump colored glass into tubes—until I found what I like,” she tells me. Then she experimented and developed her style. Her niche—melting glass from recycled windows. “I like that I can make beautiful things out of something that would be trash and end up in a landfill,” she says. “Windows are one of the least recycled, least re-useable types of glass.”

“I want to brag a bit about Teddie,” Brad says. “She has a piece in a museum in Germany. She exhibits lots of places and teaches at The Crucible in Oakland and taught at Waldorf High School in San Francisco. Last week she sold two pieces, one to a couple from England.”

Pending retirement got Brad moving toward the arts too. Teddie told him if he retired, he couldn’t just sit around. He had to have plans for staying active. So, he decided to become a critic—writing theater reviews. It wasn’t foreign territory. His grandfather owned a theater chain. His father worked for MGM, NBC and other studios in Hollywood and his mother was a ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera.

Writing freelance reviews is how Brad got started— for two northern VA newspapers, a DC newspaper and Theater.com before the dot com bubble burst. He attended matinees and evening productions, often on the same day. Most of the time, Teddie did too. Around 2002, Theater.com crashed. Brad and Teddie took up the slack. They launched PotomacStages.com. It was the first website for professional and community theater reviews for the DC, MD and northern VA area. For 15 years, Brad produced one review and one news article every business day. He even became Vice Chair of the American Theater Critics Association. The site’s no longer active, but it’s archived at the University of Maryland.

The Hathaways are city people. Brad’s an L.A. native and Teddie grew up mostly in Spokane, WA, Tucson, AZ and DC. When they married, they lived in DC’s northern VA suburbs to raise their son and daughter. After their children graduated from high school, Brad was mowing the yard one day when he thought, “Why am I doing this? I hate mowing grass!” So, they moved into DC, renovating an 1888 townhouse on Capitol Hill.

They thought they’d move to San Francisco after Teddie retired, since their daughter and grandchildren live in the East Bay. Their son and his family live in Washington State. That would put them all on the same coast. But SF real estate prices were too high. A 3-day weekend on West Pier brought them to Sausalito. “The first day we visited the kids,” Teddie says. “The second day we went out with a real estate agent. The third day we bought this house on East Pier. We fell in love with the community and knew it was the right place for us.”

They’ve lived eight years in WaterSong—their floating home named after one of Teddie’s early glass pieces that hangs on their living room wall. They’re helping with the September FHA tour. And they travel a lot. “I wanted to see all the countries that were supposedly bad guys when I was a kid,” Teddie says. They’ve been to Red Square, Tiananmen Square, Havana and Vietnam among others. Coming up this year, they’re going to Japan, China and Australia.

Teddie and Brad track their travels on a stenciled map of the world on their bathroom wall. Red lines trace their adventures. Above it, they added the Mark Twain quote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

Regardless of where their travels take them, they’ll always return to East Pier. Teddie insists she’s not leaving. Besides, there’s no grass to mow.