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Obituary Stories

Proud U.S. citizen enjoyed helping others

Craig Smith
| Saturday, December 21, 2013 12:01 a.m
OBIT, obits, Obituary: Helmut Hartmann, 84, of Greensburg, died Dec. 17, 2013.
OBIT, obits, Obituary: Helmut Hartmann, 84, of Greensburg, died Dec. 17, 2013.

Growing up in Germany, Helmut Hartmann was forced into a branch of the Hitler Youth movement at 10 and drafted into “a unit of old men and kids” in Hitler’s Army when he was 14 12.

Membership in the “Jungvolk” was mandatory for boys in the years leading up to World War II. They learned to march, use a compass and map, and build a tent or shelter.

Mr. Hartmann left Germany in 1951 with one suitcase and $300.

“He sold his bicycle. … He sold everything he owned to come here,” said his daughter, Anne Marie Zemba of Greensburg. “He was very proud of the fact that he became an American citizen.”

Helmut Hartmann of Greensburg died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, in Westmoreland Manor in Hempfield. He was 84.

When World War II ended, Mr. Hartmann worked as a translator for the American Red Cross, assisting U.S. military personnel. He was fluent in several languages.

Once here, he worked on a farm in Waterloo, Iowa, obtained his U.S. citizenship and met his wife, the late Marcia Lou Chandler. Mr. Hartmann worked for the Lions Club International as an overseas manager. In 1977, he and his family moved to Scottdale and he went to work for Volkswagen of America.

“I thought the world of him,” said Gordon Rondeau of Downers Grove, Ill., who knew Mr. Hartmann for 50 years. “He was one of the truly fine people you meet.”

In their younger days, they would ski together.

“He was an intelligent guy,” said Rondeau, a retired police officer.

Mr. Hartmann, who was active with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, earned three degrees from Westmoreland County Community College during the 1980s. He and two of his three daughters were attending classes at the Youngwood campus at the same time in 1989.

His love of teaching took him to the Czech Republic in the 1990s to teach English.

“Everywhere he went, he made friends,” Anne Marie Zemba said. “There was nothing he wouldn’t do for anyone.”

In addition to his daughter Anne Marie, he is survived by daughters Heidi Hartmann of Greensburg and Holly Chandler Stants of Hunker, three grandchildren and his companion and friend, Flo Bucciero.

Funeral services will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Harrold Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, 671 Baltzer Meyer Pike in Hempfield, with the Rev. John M. Smaligo officiating. Private inurnment will be in Harrold Zion Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or

Categories: Obituaries
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