Former Jeannette fire chief spent most of his life in the city
Angela Cook spent most of her 40 years with her grandfather, Ira Hartman Jr.
“He raised me since I was born, and when I came home from college, I went back to live with him,” Cook said. “When I bought my first home, he moved in with me.”
Cook can remember spending summers with her grandfather and his prize crop, rhubarb.
“We’d make tons of rhubarb sauce. It’s such a wonderful memory,” she said.
Ira C. Hartman Jr. of Jeannette died Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. He was 87.
Mr. Hartman was born Dec. 13, 1930, in Fairchance, a son of the late Ira C. Hartman Sr. and Rose Townsend Hartman. His parents moved to Jeannette to work in the glass industry.
He quit school in the eighth grade to start working at the former Longo’s Market in Jeannette.
Mr. Hartman was a devout Christian, often reading his Bible for several hours a day. He met his wife, the late Shirley Snyder Hartman, at a picnic hosted by the former Open Bible Church. The couple married on May 8, 1954.
Mr. Hartman followed in his father’s footsteps, taking a job with the former American Window Glass Co. He was a former firefighter and chief for the City of Jeannette Fire Department, and he enlisted in the Army in 1951, serving in Baumholder, Germany, before being discharged in 1954.
“I met him as a kid hanging out at the fire station when he was still on the job,” said Jeannette fire Chief Bill Frye. “He was a quiet guy who kept to himself. But when a call came, he was knowledgeable and well-organized.”
Mr. Hartman spent 37 years with the department, retiring in October 1992. But long before he was fighting fires, Mr. Hartman was familiar with danger.
“He witnessed a murder in Jeannette when he was a kid,” Cook said. “This guy killed his wife, and my granddad saw it. The guy turned the gun toward him, and it jammed. He actually had to be under police protection for a little while.”
Cook said her grandfather made sure the family was acquainted with his favorite food: fried potato sandwiches.
“It was a Depression-era food, but we grew up thinking everyone ate that,” Cook said with a laugh. “He would slice potatoes thin, fry them until they got crispy, and put tomato and salt on them.”
Mr. Hartman enjoyed vegetable gardening and sitting on the back porch with his wife and pets.
His name itself is also a legacy within the family, Cook said.
“My mom’s middle name is ‘Iris,’ my brother’s name is ‘Ira’ and his great-grandson’s name is also ‘Ira,’” she said.
Mr. Hartman is survived by his grandchildren, Angela “Chrisy” Cook of Jeannette, Michael Howard and wife, Erica, of Hempfield, and Ira Howard and wife, Cristina, of Jeannette; and numerous great-grandchildren, godchildren, nieces and nephews.
Friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the John V. Graziano Funeral Home, 228 N. Second St., Jeannette. The Jeannette Fire Department No. 112 will host a 7:30 p.m. service at the funeral home.
A 10 a.m. funeral will take place Friday in the funeral home chapel. Interment with military honors will follow in Twin Valley Memorial Park in Delmont.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.