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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 administrative positions at the
prestigious Brookhaven National Laboratory and
the New York State War Council, among others.
His career is chronicled in Who's Who in America
and Who's Who in the World. He has lived the
life of a brilliant intellectual, and continues
to do so at age 102.
But it is not his impressive career
or his many accomplishments - or even his
current active lifestyle - that draws attention
to him this month. Rather, it is his greatest
role in life: that of devoted father.
He says of his longevity: "Having children who
are active and make it possible to think with
them as they face their own evolving life
concerns, has been a factor in the quality of my
life. My three boys and I have remained close."
Karl was born on January 17, 1906 in Chicago, the
son of a Methodist minister and his wife from
Massachusetts. Higher education was a central
theme in his family. His maternal grandfather
graduated from the first class of the new Boston
University Law School; his paternal grandfather
graduated from Illinois Wesleyan, and as a
student was among the group that first explored
the headwaters of the Colorado River with John
Wesley Powell, the first white man down the
Colorado River. He was a Methodist minister in
New Orleans and later in Zimbabwe. Karl's
parents were also college graduates: his mother
from Radcliffe in Cambridge and his father from
the University of Cincinnati and from Drew
Theological Seminary in New Jersey. Both sides
of Karl's family were religious refugees: The
Drews arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in
1640; the Hartzells arrived in Pennsylvania near
Philadelphia around 1730. Both families sought
a better life in America and by all accounts
were strikingly successful. Karl is justifiably
proud of his ancestry.
However, Karl, an only child, lost his father at
the age of ten. The family had moved to
Pasadena, California, and his father was in line
to become a bishop in the Methodist church; Karl
recalls, poignantly, that there was once a church in
Pasadena named Hartzell Memorial. He and
his mother moved back to Massachusetts to live
with her parents; his mother never remarried.
Thus, his grandfather became the central father
figure in Karl's life from then on. Were it not
for him, Karl believes he would have followed
the Hartzell side of his family into the
ministry, and has maintained a keen interest in
the study of religion to this day.
But his maternal grandfather, a Boston
lawyer, encouraged young Karl, who excelled at
academics, to attend Wesleyan University in
Middletown, Connecticut. He graduated in 1927,
Phi Beta Kappa, the only one with athletic
Then it was on to Harvard graduate school,
where he received a Ph.D. in history in
1934, and during which time he met his
future wife, Anne Lomas. It was the height
of the Great Depression and Anne agreed to
marry only after he secured a sufficient
position to support their prospective
family. The newlyweds therefore moved south,
where Karl was offered an associate
professorship at Georgia Tech. So began
Karl's career in higher education.
Soon after, Karl and Anne began their family:
first born son, Drew, followed four years
later by twin sons, Richard and Julian.
Karl (center, bottom row) as
captain of the
Wesleyan University tennis team, 1925
The family and Lassie head
east to Bucknell University in Lewisburg,
PA, from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon,
Many moves followed in pursuit of Karl's
career But the one constant was his "lovely
family" as he describes their life.
In 1985, Karl lost his beloved wife, Anne, but
has maintained close ties with his sons. He
remains involved in their lives and enjoys
giving advice on both career and personal
matters. He visits them frequently,
traveling from his retirement home in
Florida to the Northeast. "They keep me
young," the active centenarian
Living independently in an active retirement
community, Karl still drives and plays 18
holes of golf twice a week. He sings in the
chorus and plays bridge when he finds the
time. Karl published his fourth book,
"American Values: The Laws of Living,"
when he was 99.
Karl does all of his writing on his
computer, and uses email. He credits son
Drew with having introduced him to the
computer "years ago." Karl is at work now
on his memoirs, encouraged by his sons. He
plans a "sabbatical" of sorts this summer,
staying with his son, Dick, "so I can finish
my book without distraction."
|Sons Drew, Dick and
Drew, Ph.D., from Eastman School of Music, has
just retired from his professorship
at SUNY Albany, and recently had his
life's work - a catalogue of
manuscripts, used or produced in
England prior to 1200 AD, in which
were music - published in London.
Dick, M.A., from Catholic
University, founded a Center for
Musical Theater and teaches "voice"
privately with pupils ranging in age
from 8 to 65. He is also a member
of the music faculty at Goucher
College in Baltimore. His twin
brother, Julian, M.A., from the
University of North Carolina, is a
writer in San Francisco. Karl adds:
"As you can imagine, keeping up with
them keeps me alive historically,
musically, and educationally."
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