John Hartman

I write in sadness but with admiration and memories of pleasure. I am of an age. I dedicated my 2022 book, Searching for Literacy, to four scholar/friends who I knew well for between 25 and more than 50 years. I published obituaries for two of them, and dedicated earlier books to former adviser and professors, and two doctoral graduates who died tragically prematurely.

I write to remember for myself, his Columbus Free Press family, former students, and beloved family Jack (John K.) Hartman, since 2015 the Media Insider columnist.

I met and immediately established a collegial friendship with Jack as soon as he contacted me after reading my own Columbus Free Press Busting Myths essays. We bonded immediately over coffee in my dining room because of our lifelong progressive activism and as retired professors and active tennis players in our younger years. When Jack taught journalism at Central Michigan University, he read my younger brother’s rock and pop music reviews in the Detroit Free Press (until my brother lost his job during a major strike during which the newspaper illegally broke the union). Our new and 18-month friendship had many bases.

Jack and I had many conversational themes and experiences from growing up through our careers and retirement to share and compare. They ranged from the history and present decline of journalism and the media; to our teaching and writing experiences; to our tennis. In retirement, Jack coached high school tennis while he remained political active and wrote.

We talked about Ohio, Columbus, and national politics, the former two over the course of Jack’s lifetime as an Ohio native. We gave each other historical and personal background as necessary and relevant. It was fun to both agree and disagree with Jack.

Jack combined the best of professional collegiality and friendship. Each time I walk past the bookshelf on which his two volumes, The USA TODAY Way (1992) and The USA TODAY Way 2 The Future (2000), inscribed personally to me sit, I think about Jack.

I will always admire his many forms of journalistic practice and experiences, his dedication to his students and his delight in our exchanging anecdotes about students inside and outside our classrooms. Jack and his partner Kay were active politically at many levels from their student days at Bowling Green State University to Michigan and then back again in Ohio. He fought to make a better, more humane, fairer, equal world in so many ways.

I also remember so well is Jack’s pleasure and pride in telling me stories about his three daughters and seven grandchildren across the US, and his partner in so much, Kay.

He emailed me several times from his hospital room following his January blood stem cell transplant surgery. For a few weeks, he was doing well. But a severe infection developed, leading to his Mar. 7 death.

I miss my new friend Jack Hartman.

[For a full traditional obituary, see the Rutherford Funeral Home website]