Jeffry “Jeff” Hartnell, 72, of Westerville passed away at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital surrounded by his family on Tuesday, August 21, 2018.
He was born on November 5, 1945 in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Jeff attended Coldwater High School (1963), where he played baseball and football and served as the class president. Jeff earned a Bachelor of Arts (1967) and a Masters (1971) from Michigan State University, where he walked-on and played football for the Spartans (#63). He taught American History at Leslie High School in Michigan and also served as the Defensive Coordinator for the football team. Jeff helped lead the Blackhawks to the 1968 Ingham County Conference Championship and fell just a game short of two additional titles in 1969 and 1970. In the fall of 1972, Jeff met Val McKim, a 1st Grade teacher at Woodworth Elementary School in Leslie. On September 21, 1973, they married and moved to Holt, where Jeff took a pharmaceutical position with Warren-Teed and Adria Laboratories. A new sales job with Abbott-Ross Pharmaceuticals turned into a regional manager opportunity that brought the Hartnells to Westerville, Ohio in 1978. Jeff moved from medical sales into marketing and advertising, where he worked at Martcom before forming Hartnell & Associates. Jeff retired for one day in 2006 before beginning his “full-time” part-time job as the Executive Director of the Westerville Visitors and Convention Bureau. Jeff relished having his finger on the pulse of the city and would happily discuss everything… at great length… to anyone, anywhere, and anytime. He truly loved Westerville and embraced everything the city had to offer, whether it was coaching little league sports, partaking in parades, organizing charity events, working the “Fun Fair” at Mark Twain, or revitalizing attendance at Fourth Fridays from an 800-person after-thought to a 11,000-strong community "must-see" celebration (of which he was the most enthusiastic). Jeff was always on the go and enjoyed his “projects”, which included building shelves, decks, living room beams, staining the deck, and endlessly repairing the picket fence. He was a modern-day Renaissance Man, a people-person who was quick with a joke, would happily spot you a $20, and could be seen manning the grill at family gatherings, mowing a baseball field in the backyard, or planning the next great “Griswold Family” trip. Jeff’s center was, unquestionably, family. The only time he would slow down was during the annual week-long vacation to Traverse City, where he perfected his tan, practiced his amateur meteorological skills (“Nah. This’ll burn off.”), and spent morning, noon, and night with his wife, children, and grandsons. He loved all the holidays and was as ravenous about turkey as the Old Man in “A Christmas Story”.
Jeff is preceded in death by his parents Louise and Jack Hartnell and is survived by his wife of 44 years, Val; children, Ben (Molly), Nathan (Katy), and Sarah (Micki); five grandsons (Connor, Liam, Fraser, Kaelin, and Ethan); his brother Jack (Bonnie); and his nieces and nephews, all of whom he viewed as children of his own.
A celebration of Jeff’s life will take place on Thursday, August 30th from 4-7pm at the Hill Funeral Home in Westerville. A full Catholic Mass will occur on Friday, August 31st at 10:30am at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Westerville with Rev. Fr. David Gwinner as the Celebrant. A light lunch will be provided in the church following the Mass with graveside services occurring at 2:00pm at the Resurrection Cemetery in Lewis Center. The Hartnell Family would like to extend our gratitude to all the staff at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital for their attentiveness and loving care. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jeff’s name can be made to Westerville Honor Flight c/o Columbus Honor Flight, P.O. Box 12036, Columbus, Ohio 43212. This is especially meaningful because Jeff supported numerous veteran associations around town and was incredibly proud of his own father’s service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Jeff’s larger-than-life personality and overly-generous spirit will be deeply missed.