My father, James Arnold Hartman, Sr. was born on April 13, 1942 in Silsbee, Texas. He was the son of Johnnie Raye Hartman, his mother and Frank Hartman, his father. Johnnie managed convenient stores and was extremely close to her son. She was an integral part of our family. My Father cared for his Mother deeply. Frank was a World War II hero and served under General Patton. Unfortunately, I never had the privilege of meeting Frank. He passed away the year I was born. At the age of 16 my Father followed in the footsteps of his Father and joined the Navy. He completed his basic training in San Diego, California. My Father served his country for 8 years. For many of those years he was stationed in Tokyo, Japan and served as a mortician. Dad told great stories of the time he served his country. His favorite line was - his customers never complained. Dad met the love of his life when he returned to the States – my Mom, Leavon Hartman. They married on February 21, 1969 at Fletcher Emmanuel Baptist Church in Lumberton, Texas. He loved my Mother more than anything on earth. One of the last nights I spent with him at Baptist Hospital he shared with me his love for her. He made me promise that she’d always be taken care of. Dad was proud of his family. Over the last few months he routinely spoke of how lucky he was to have such a great life. 3 great boys, 5 precious grandchildren, a beautiful wife and memories to last forever. He would tell you he lived a full life. For those of you who only knew Dad in the latter stage of his life you missed out. As a young man for years he enjoyed riding motorcycles. I remember riding on the back of his Harley – long handle bars and all. Dad was a tremendous water skier. He could ski with me on his shoulders. He hosted his own radio show. His nickname was Hungry Hartman, it came from his days in mobile home sales. I remember they’d run these crazy promotions like offering potential buyers the opportunity to pick-up pennies out of a wheelbarrow and use them for the down payment. For some crazy reason he decided to run for office one year – luckily, he didn’t win. Elected office would’ve never been the same if he had. Dad also loved racing. He never drove the car, but he enjoyed watching and supporting my brothers Jason and Josh. Dad loved to camp, hunt and fish. We caught more white perch and catfish than you could ever imagine. He taught me and my brothers everything we know about the outdoors. It was a great blessing that we now pass on to our kids. What was unique about my Dad was he always included us boys. I remember going to the hunting camp and being the only kid there. Now there’d be 10 other grown man at the camp. I know they must’ve had kids, but I was only kid there. He truly wanted to be with his family. He’d choose hunting and fishing with us over his buddies any day of the week. Dad also loved to cook. Dad got his love of cooking from his Father. Dad fried the best catfish in the world. Supposedly he had a secret recipe that he only shared with one person – my wife Tracy. She’s still yet to tell me the secret. Dad also made a mean brisket. I remember him and Don McKeehan competing at the BBQ contest each year in Houston at the Livestock Show and Rodeo.
My father was a self-made man. He worked hard to provide for his family. He instilled that work ethic in me and my brothers. When he returned from the Navy he held multiple construction jobs before landing in the mobile home business. Dad started in sales working for Pastor Digmon. That’s where they formed their life long relationship. Pastor Digmon has gone on to play a huge roll in our family. He baptized my Father and he married me and my wife. I’m very proud that he’s here today to preside over my Father’s funeral. Dad transitioned from selling mobile homes to moving them. Ultimately, he owned and operated Texas Transport for 40 years. As a family we never wanted for anything. Dad was a tremendous provider. My brothers Jason and Josh had the privilege of working in the family business for many years. I only worked for Dad while I was in school, but he taught me so much about business. He would never take credit for it, but I would not be as successful as I am without him. Dad taught me the most important aspect of business – taking care of your customers. His business was built on repeat customers. Dad loved to work. He was the happiest when he was busy. It was a sad day for Dad when he sold his business and retired. A little piece of him died that day. Left to him, Dad would’ve passed on a job. The last day I spent with Dad I was leaving for a meeting in Chicago. I told Dad I hated to leave. He told me it was important to take care of my work and my family. That statement sums up my Father. He always took care of both.
For those of you who knew him well, you know he could be crotchety, hard-headed, opinionated and downright inflexible at times. That was all part of his charm. The man had more friends than you could ever imagine. He never met a stranger and always had time to chat and have a beer. Dad touched a lot of people. He would do anything for his friends. One of the toughest things I’ve done since he passed was calling his closest buddies. Dad was a people person. He had this uncanny ability to relate to everyone. I know he’s looking down today smiling at the friends in attendance and I’m sure he’s already caught up with Smitty, Duke, Don and Bernard. If there’s beer in heaven I’m sure they’re enjoying one now. Dad was a fighter, he got off the matt multiple times. He beat a Stroke, Bladder Cancer and fought off COPD for many years. Dad finally succumbed to COPD on May 17 at approximately 9:30AM. My Mom and my brothers at his side. My Father is survived by: His loving wife of 49 years, Leavon Hartman; his children and their spouses, Josh and Kayla Hartman, Jason and Chelsea Hartman, myself (James Arnold Hartman, Jr.), and Tracy Hartman; his precious grandchildren, Ty Hartman, Jayce Hartman, Kipp Hartman, Keller Hartman, and Jordyn Hartman; and a special daughter, my Mom’s sister, Annette McKeehan; and finally, his dog Skye, he’d be mad at me if I failed to mention Skye. He loved Skye. Dad always had a deep love for animals.
My father is preceded by his mother Johnnie Raye Hartman and his father Frank Hartman
I’ll miss Dad. He always reminded me not to get too big for my britches. He was always there when I needed to talk. We talked almost every day. 20 years ago, I would’ve never said he was my best friend. Today I realized he’s always been my best friend. I’m proud of him and the life he lived. I love you Dad.