H. King Hartman MD, 85, of Greensburg, loving husband and father of four children passed away peacefully on June 21, 2022. King was born January 5, 1937 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the middle of three sons to the late Dr. James Wiley Hartman and Katharine King Hartman.
Growing up in Latrobe at that time, King was fortunate to call the late Fred Rogers and Arnold Palmer friends. The generous, gregarious, driven-to-succeed nature of those individuals was instilled in King as well; those traits shaped his life.
He graduated at the top of his class from Latrobe Area High School in 1955. During his senior year as captain of the tennis team, he partnered with Walt Berberich to win the state doubles championship.
He continued his tennis career at Washington & Jefferson College where he led the Presidents to 33 straight victories and two conference championships. He was the reigning No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles conference champion in all four years at the College. King was also a two-time conference MVP and ranked among the top 10 players in the east throughout his career.
Not to be dismissed was King’s love of the social scene at W&J. He maintained a strong affiliation with his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, for whom he served as president his senior year. His academic career was equally impressive, being elected into Phi Beta Kappa honor society and graduating summa cum laude in 1959.
King matriculated at Temple University School of Medicine in the summer of ‘59. It was there he met the love of his life, Caroline Heiser, a young nursing student at Temple University. He earned his Doctor of Medicine, graduating in 1963. Shortly thereafter, he and Caroline affirmed their commitment to one another at the altar and were married June 22, 1963.
King’s medical education continued at the Cleveland Clinic where he completed his residency in ophthalmology in 1967. His plans to return to southwestern Pennsylvania and start his ophthalmology career were put on hold as he was drafted by the U.S. Army to serve in Vietnam. King was deployed to Vietnam and served as a head and neck trauma surgeon just behind the front lines. While there he survived the Tet Offensive by cutting out a screen and hanging out a window until the Viet Cong left the area.
He returned home as a major in the U.S. Army with a redefined outlook on life. “Not sweating the small stuff” took on a new meaning after witnessing the atrocities committed during wartime. When his eldest son accidentally flooded their newly completed addition to their home during 4th of July festivities, his response: “It’s just a little water. It can be fixed.”
He launched his ophthalmology private practice in Greensburg in 1970 and, despite his colorful ultrasuede sportcoats with matching patent leather shoes and a corresponding psychedelic carpet, it became a success. His desire to see ophthalmologists succeed nationally led him to be one of the founding fathers of Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company, the insurance carrier recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. His love of medicine in general, and ophthalmology specifically, led two of his sons, King Jr. and Coby to join him in practice. His third son, Brett, is a reconstructive plastic surgeon and the director of the Indiana University Burn Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. His daughter, Cami, pursued a different path and got her teaching certificate.
Outside of work King maintained his love of tennis, competing at all age levels. Early in his career he and his doubles partner, Doug Kilgore, had the privilege of playing against tennis Hall of Fame legend Rod Laver and his partner in a locally televised event benefiting area charities. More recently, after turning 80, he was a semifinalist in a national 80+ tournament.
He also had a fondness for collecting, much to the chagrin of his wife and kids! He renewed his childhood interest in toy trains amassing thousands of Lionel, American Flyer, Ives and LGB trains over the years. He shared his love of trains by loaning some of his collection for a holiday display at Overly’s Country Christmas, now known as Hartman Station.
As the years went by his love for animals took center stage. There wasn’t an animal, big or small, that he didn’t care for. Through his time and generosity, he supported innumerable animal charities; he took great pride in being a primary donor/volunteer in the Humane Society of Westmoreland County’s annual Whisker Walk. If the saying that dogs can pick out the nicest, kindest people holds true, then he’s one of the best, for every dog adored him.
King simply loved his family. Most of his favorite memories revolved around family gatherings. His legendary childhood battles with his brothers Wiley and Tom stretched into adult battles in mini golf, cards, and riding waves; practically anything between them turned into a fun-spirited competition. He loved taking his sons golfing in Arizona, building sandcastles with his grandchildren in Ocean City, New Jersey, strolling the parks at Disney World hand-in-hand with his wife, watching the sunset with “whoever could make the trip” in Naples, Florida or just relaxing at home with his entire extended family during the holidays. Nothing made him happier.
Hopefully his spirit of kindness, generosity, and compassion can live on as he is remembered by family, friends, and acquaintances alike.
King is survived by his wife of 59 years, Caroline, his four children King Jr. (Jamie), Cami (Jeff Skatell), Brett (Kate), Coby (Kaitlyn), nine grandchildren, his brother Thomas and his faithful furry companion, Wyatt.
Family and friends will be received from noon to 4pm Saturday, June 25, 2022 at the KEPPLE-GRAFT FUNERAL HOME, INC., 524 North Main Street, Greensburg. Funeral service will be private. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made to the Humane Society of Westmoreland County at 139 Humane Society Road, Greensburg, PA 15601 or westmorelandhumanesociety.com. Online condolences are welcome at www.kepplegraft.com