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Estelle Marie Hartmann

1926 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Estelle Marie Hartmann Obituary
Estelle Marie Hartmann died Sunday afternoon, April 27, 2014, at Wingate nursing home in Sudbury, Mass. She departed with loved ones at her side and the same irascible spirit that characterized her remarkable life. She was 87, although she'd prefer that no one know that.

Born in Elizabeth, N.J., Estelle (though even her kids called her "Mrs. Hartmann" sometimes) hit the gate running, entering Columbia University and emerging a nurse. Her decades-long career encompassed everything from pediatrics (when she helmed a wing at St. Elizabeth's Hospital) to geriatrics (at a New Brunswick, N.J., nursing home). She ended her nursing career at Freehold Hospital, then became a substitute teacher in New Brunswick. Along the way, she met the love of her life, Henry "Hank" Hartmann, who swept her off her feet and within months down the aisle in 1958. They had four children who never tired of hearing the story of their courtship.

Estelle refused to be pigeonholed. She was a mom who adored her children, all the while maintaining a career tending to those in need. Giving back to the community became a way of life, whether it was with the League of Women Voters, Welcome Wagon or her kids' PTAs.

She was a skilled baker who created what was widely considered the World's Greatest Pineapple Upside Down Cake, but she could also take scraps, a few spices and expired canned goods and turn them into a gourmet meal. She loved to travel, telling Hank to pack his bags after she made the reservations and paid the deposits. She was a Jersey girl at heart, but after two subsequent moves, she gleefully created a new life for herself in Atlanta (where she volunteered with Hank during the 1996 Summer Olympics) and Dover, Del.

Artful to the core, she painted lovely landscapes (which she sold for $2 each at a garage sale, much to the chagrin of her kids), cross-stitched ridiculously complicated designs (including Christmas tree skirts deemed too beautiful to put under a tree) and sewed myriad dresses for her granddaughter and her doll. Naturally, her kids always had the best Halloween costumes, though perhaps none better than the year she turned them into the Fruit of the Loom characters.

She lost herself in good books, bridge, contract gin and board games, teaching her grandchildren the agony of defeat by trouncing them in Trouble. She loved to laugh at herself, could tell a ribald joke with the best of 'em, lived for March Madness and her son's high school football games and demanded silence during "Jeopardy!"

Estelle was predeceased by Hank, who passed away in 2004; her son, Frank, who died in 1995; and her two brothers, John and Dan. She is survived by three children who have more stories about their mom than they can possibly remember: John Hartmann of Braintree, Mass.; Janet Deiner of Union City, N.J., and her husband, John, who met his mother-in-law to be when he was 5; and Barbara Evans of Chesapeake, Va. In addition, she leaves behind three grandchildren, Christopher, Jessica (plus fiancée Tim Lopez) and Kyle; 11 nieces and nephews; and several generations of kids from a New Brunswick cul-de-sac who never could or will forget "Mrs. Hartmann."

A graveside service will be held at St. Gertrude Cemetery in Colonia, N.J., at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 3. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
Published in Dover Post from Apr. 29 to May 5, 2014
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