John Joseph Hartnett

September 7, 1935January 2, 2019

John J. Hartnett passed away Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Understanding the financial ramifications of this news, Medicare will be hosting their next annual conference in Maui.

John was born in Pittsburgh, PA on September 7, 1935 to Mary Sweeney and John Joseph Hartnett and to the delight of his only sister, Mary Kay. John was very lucky to have been loved by both the family he was created by and then the family he created. After growing up in the Chicago and Detroit areas, he proudly served in the United States Marine Corps for the country he loved. [Please never say “pants” and always say “trousers.” It is not a “hat,” it is a “cover.”]

John Hartnett entered the automotive industry sponsored by General Motors’ auspicious “Previews of Progress” initiative. He travelled the country evangelizing GM’s cutting edge technologies to unsuspecting groups and schools. Once, while experiencing their own car trouble in the heartland of the country, he and his trained associates decided to do a full technology demonstration of these “space-age” innovations to a field of newly enlightened cows. His humor was inane and infectious.

While representing GM at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, John met a woman that initially resisted the totality of his charms, but eventually succumbed to his tenacity. This woman would eventually validate his merit by not only proximity but by acceptance of his humor. Besides being smart she was also good looking, so clearly this guy was lucky. John first proposed to Joyce on their second date. She ignored this, along with other future advances, through a tumultuous relationship that culminated in John’s booking a flight with her [her occupation at the time was an American Airlines Stewardess] where he conveniently introduced her to his father upon landing.

John Hartnett married Joyce Hooks on a sunny day in 1966 in Salem, MA, they then settled in Kansas City, MO.

In 1968, John and Joyce welcomed their first daughter, Shannon Hooks, while living in beautiful Troy, MI. Seemingly on the run from the law, the new couple again relocated, briefly residing in Hamburg, NY and then, unwittingly, relocated to Northridge, CA. There they celebrated another endeavor into planned parenthood with daughter, Heather Healey. All to the fanfare of a large aftershock of the 1971 earthquake, centered directly under their address. Many new neighbors and lifelong friends were met there.

General Motors opened many opportunities to John’s creativity and enthusiasm, sometimes knowingly. In this, his advancement in the field of Public Relations was swift and glorious. The GM road to his future included stops in Dallas, TX, Ramsey, NJ and ultimately the Washington, DC area.

He raised a family that proudly defended a truly American product with genuine safety regard. In Washington, he and his close friends made good ideas a reality with burgeoning partnerships aligning automotive forces with the aerospace and technology fields, namely NASA, Hughes Aerospace, EDS and Siemens. John made great friends with members of the National Press Corps and was graced to have met and worked with many U.S. Presidents. His success ultimately got him called back to Detroit where GM is headquartered.

Having relocated 29 times in his life, he finally returned to the Washington DC area where he finished his professional communications career at the American Association of Railroads. Once retired he dedicated time and attention to his loving wife, daughters, grandson, and multiple canine family members, namely Hobbes, Tupelo, Larry Longnose (the neighbor kids thought his name was “Larry Goddamnit”), Dizzy, and Barley.

To know John was to know that he loved watching Notre Dame football on mute, saltine crackers with toppings, Elvis, making handmade signs and detecting smells before anyone in the room. He did not appreciate Jane Fonda or boating.

His best day was waking up without an alarm, going down to the City Dock coffee shop, meeting up with friends and sitting on the bench with Barley to watch people passing by. He knew he was lucky. He knew he was loved. He wished he had better plumbing. He stayed curious and concerned with world events. He brought joy and humor to so many people he met. He lived a beautiful life and will be missed enormously. He would advise you to tell the people you love that you love them.

He is preceded in death by his parents, John and Mary Hartnett; his sister Mary Kay Ulrich and her son Clifford Ulrich.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce Hooks Hartnett; his daughters Shannon Hartnett and Healey McBride; his grandson Seamus Getlo McBride; Bob, Jim, Peter and Michael Ulrich; David, Matthew and Jennifer Hooks; Peter, Mary, Daniel and Jeffrey Hooks; Ann, Robert, Taylor and Christopher Reardon… and finally his golden retriever Barley, the best advertisement for canine companionship since “little Timmy fell in the well.” [Lassie reference]

In lieu of flowers, the family would ask that you consider donations to the following groups:

SPCA of Anne Arundel County Donations accepted at in honor of John Hartnett.

Annapolis Ambulance Memorial Fund The AFD Ambulance Memorial Fund is an account which has been in place for over 45 years to collect funds designated to be used exclusively for items needed for the enhancement of the Emergency Medical Services Division. Please make checks payable to the City of Annapolis and reference "Ambulance Memorial Fund.” 1790 Forest Dr., Annapolis, MD 21401.

SERVICES: Friends and family are invited for a visitation Saturday, January 12th from 9 - 10:15 am at the John M. Taylor Funeral Home, located at 147 Duke of Gloucester Street, Annapolis MD 21401. A Funeral Mass is scheduled immediately following at St. Mary’s Parish Catholic Church at 10:30, the same day, in Annapolis, located at 109 Duke of Gloucester St. (walking distance from funeral home.)


  • Memorial Receiving of Friends Saturday, January 12, 2019
  • Memorial Mass Saturday, January 12, 2019

John Joseph Hartnett

have a memory or condolence to add?

Jane Fleming Thomas

January 11, 2019

Joyce & crew....
Only fond memories of your time in Hamburg with the Flemings. Jeanne & Bob treasured every moment with your young family. I was blessed to learn my first baby sitting "gigs" with your beautiful daughters.
The obituary captures John's every move and your love for him. I thank God that he was a part of my young life, if even for a short moment in time.
Peace and blessings to your and yours.
Love ,

Ron DeFore

January 10, 2019

I met John in the 1980s and liked him from the start. He was, above all, one of the funniest people I've ever known. His humor wasn't in the telling of jokes, rather it was spontaneous commentary--he could extract humor from almost anything he was viewing. This melded well with my own love of humor. John was also very smart - - he hired our firm. He was also very trusting as he allowed both his daughters to work for us. The Hartnetts have been a big part of my life for three decades. The world has truly lost a gem, but heaven has gained a good man who will keep the angels laughing. See short video memory of John:

Hank Weed

January 9, 2019

One of our (John and me) assignments while he was in Detroit (I also worked for GM). Our common boss was Phil Guarascio who assigned the two of us to organize and carry off a grand meeting attended by the heads of the top three auto companies, as well as the heads of the relevant unions (primarily UAW). This was a daunting task at best and John and I met with this group (manufacturers and unions) for at least six and probably eight weeks prior to the meeting.

The important thing is that John and I thoroughly enjoyed our time spent together on this assignment and others and formed a great relationship because of it.

Oh incidentally, the meeting went off without a hitch and nothing happened as a result -- typical!

Anne Hawthorne-Casali

January 6, 2019

Dear Joyce and family,
What a lovely obituary for John! Rick and I extend our very deepest condolences to you and your dear family and may God bless you all at this difficult time.
Anne and Rick

Rita Shapiro

January 5, 2019

John and I, fellow lechters, we shared many puns and jokes! Last time we met was in the parking lot of Graul’s Market before a Navy Home game!
Thank You so much for your puns and numerous laughs Mr. H I will miss you terribly!! Please Rest In Peace!! We have picked up the watch!

Ron Cohen

January 5, 2019

Journalists are supposed to HATE PR flacks, or. at best, grudgingly tolerate them.

I loved — LOVED — John Hartnett. Loved him, laughed with him, am devastated that he left before he could collect that long-delayed promise of martinis and lunch at the town pier in Annapolis.

Thanks, JH, for the laughs. For just being a magnificent human ... and, even better, a great friend.

Ron Cohen

Jessica and Scott Taylor

January 5, 2019

Our hearts are sad to hear John left this world. We can be sure that heaven gained an amazing man and will be an angel continuing his legacy as a wholesome, true, genuine, trusting and caring man.

We were privileged to know the Hartnetts. Our 2 year old daughter named him “Mr. Funny John”. She’d giggle anytime she’d see him and Barely walk by the house. We have so many fond memories but one of the greatest is John sitting in his white car parked outside their home, windows up, singing (and not quietly) “How Great Thou Art.” We could hear it clearly and beautifully as we walked in our front door.

Keep singing it, John for the world to hear. You’ve crossed the finish line.... and everyone that knew you knows you ran the race well.

Maripat Putnam Kline

January 4, 2019

Dear Joyce, Shannon and Heather,
We send our most sincere condolences to your whole family. John was the best Santa the Kiwi’s ever had! Always ready for a good time. A good man.
Maripat and Bud

Ted McClanahan

January 4, 2019

John was a great friend and neighbor. He was also one of the most unforgettable persons that I have ever met. His sense of humor was infectious and hilarious, always uplifting my spirit. He was the embodiment of all of those human qualities making a sensitive, caring, and honest life. He will be missed by all whose lives he touched.

Alyssa Wittenberg

January 3, 2019

I first met Healey in 2000, just after returning to DC. We worked together for three years and she became a fast friend. I met her parents John and Joyce around that time and was quickly included in family activities and welcomed into their home in Annapolis. John had a huge personality and was a total character and I loved him. We always shared over the top hugs and kisses. He will be missed. I hope that he and all of the family dogs are hanging out and having fun. Xo Alyssa