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Centenarian Expert and Older Adults Advocate

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Karl D. Hartzell, Ph. D. ... a celebrated life
Karl Drew Hartzell, Ph.D., has had a long and distinguished career as a successful and respected professor, dean, and administrator in higher education institutions, as well as high level government administration positions in New York State following WWII, resulting in his first book: "Empire State at War: World War II."  This led to his appointment as Administrative Officer at the newly founded Brookhaven National Laboratory. He wrote his second book, "Opportunities in Atomic Energy," during his tenure at Brookhaven, published in 1950.  Karl then returned to academia, becoming dean of Cornell College in Iowa and thereafter dean of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. From there he accepted the position of Executive Dean in the Central Administration of the
New York State University System and was assigned to the State University at Stony Brook, where he was instrumental in building programs at that campus, a challenge he took on in his late 50s through a mandatory retirement at age 65 in the mid 1960s.

Karl then returned to his long-standing interest in religion, founding, with others, the Institute for the Study of World Religions on Long Island, on the Stony Brook campus. He and his wife Anne enjoyed building a home of their own in nearby Old Field. Anne started to teach piano,  which she continued for the next 10 years; she became president of the Suffolk Symphony followed by Karl as president. 
        In 1969-1970, he took what he describes as the first sabbatical of his career to pursue his developing interest in the field of values, which, he says, he didn't know much about so he thought it would be wise to put in the time to study. Karl attended both Union Theological Seminary in the fall and Yale Divinity School in the spring.
        "Nobody was talking about values at that time; it was ethics and theology or history of religion or philosophy of religion. So I thought I needed some background, because in those days, if you looked in the catalogue of the Library of Congress and looked for values, it said: "See worth." Now that's an economic term."  
        Ultimately, as a member of the Committee on Religion of the American Association of Colleges, Karl put on a Conference about religion at Stony Brook, which resulted in a small book: "Religion on the Campus of Today," published by the American Council
on Education.
        Karl officially retired in 1971 and he and Anne went to San Francisco to visit their son Julian. Their travels continued into the mid '70s, taking a train trip across Canada, to England to visit Drew, who was studying there at the time, and to Saudi Arabia to visit a friend they had made while at Bucknell, to Italy and then to the South of France, visiting friends they had met over the years along the way. "It was a wonderful way to begin their retirement years," Karl recalls.
        Karl credits wise investments over the years with giving him the financial freedom to do what he has come to regard as a labor of love: work in the field of values and valuation, and had planned from that time eventually to write a book as a result of his studies and efforts in this area. That book was published when Karl was 99, and titled: "American Values: The Laws of  Living."
Unfortunately, their idyllic retirement years were interrupted by Anne's illness,  Alzheimer's. Karl's plans to write his book were put on hold while he cared for her. They began to spend time in Florida where Anne had a dear friend from her college years. Karl lost his beloved wife when he was 85. 
         And then a new chapter of his life opened: Karl met his second wife, Betty, while in Florida, and they married, with the blessings of their children, when Karl was 87. Karl sold his home on Long Island and moved permanently to Florida with Betty. They enjoyed a dozen years together, living in an active retirement center.

Betty and Karl, 1993
Wedding Day:
Betty and Karl, 1993

Karl, Betty and their families, 1993
Wedding Day: Karl and Betty (center)
with their families, 1993

Karl continues to live independently. He was active swimming and playing tennis into his 90s and continues playing 18 holes of golf twice a week. He's a member of the chorus at the retirement center, and finished and published his book on values at age 99. Proficient on the computer for years, Karl is now hard at work on his Memoirs, writing on his computer; his plan is to publish them later this year.
        Karl's writing was interrupted by his trip to New York City in September of 2007 as part of the Barbara Walters Special "Live to be 150" (Click to read more about the Special) accompanied by his son, Drew, and the resulting local notoriety. Karl also enjoys keeping in close touch with his sons and visits them frequently. He drives and is totally independent  including flying from Florida to his sons' homes in the Northeast. 
        Karl continues to be an extraordinary

Karl Hartzell

person now an extraordinary centenarian. He sums up his personal life by saying: "I have been very happy in my life with both wives and with my children. I'm proud of my children; they have been not only sons but friends and conspirators/co-conspirators. And they've been fun!
        "When I see what happens in other peoples' families: children that go off and get lost and the parents don't know where they are; children that insist that they have the  house which prevents the parents from selling it and having the money to go into a satisfactory retirement community; children that are opposed to each other or make bad marriages; all of that my family has avoided. I think part of it is good judgment; part of it is a sweet, generous, kindly disposition." Adding: "A good part of that comes from their mother!" 

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1998-2012 National Centenarian Awareness Project & Lynn Peters Adler, J.D.
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