Friends, family fondly remember OMC physician
By Jeff Hansel
Family and friends are fondly remembering a beloved Olmsted Medical Center pediatrician and former medical director.
Dr. James "Jim" E. Hartfield Jr. died of lung cancer March 8 in Florida despite never having smoked.
Hartfield had diverse skills and worked as a pediatrician, an executive and a provider of continuing medical education, said Dr. George Linney of Charlotte, N.C.
He served as medical director at Olmsted and also on the board of the American College of Physician Executives. Hartfield was the group’s president in 1984 and 1985 and was succeeded by Linney.
Hartfield had diverse interests outside medicine.
In 1977 Hartfield was elected to the Rochester School Board and served through 1985. He was chairman in 1981.
"He was very, very involved in scouting, as an outdoorsman, an educator," said Gene Bundrock, Hartfield’s life partner.
Hartfield’s son, Mark, said his dad became involved in the Boy Scouts of America first as a parent and eventually as a scoutmaster. He traveled with his sons to Jamborees and on scouting trips.
"When we were growing up, my father was very busy between his activities at Olmsted Medical Group (which is now Olmsted Medical Center), the school board and First Baptist Church in Rochester," he said. But getting involved in scouting allowed the boys and their father to spend time together, visiting the Badlands, Yellowstone, the mountains of Idaho and Montana and the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota.
Hartfield had three other sons — Scott, Jeff and Craig.
Craig Hartfield said his dad arranged to be the school board’s representative for handing out diplomas when his sons were in school.
"All four of us received our diplomas from our dad," he said.
Love of music
At home, there was always music playing or being sung by Hartfield.
"Right up until months before his death, he was still singing at his church down here in Florida, and he passed that along to his children," Mark Hartfield said.
That love of music led to family involvement in a play that Mark directed. Craig Hartfield, Bundrock and several of the grandkids all were cast with parts in the play.
"It was really an incredible thing to have this experience, to give a chance for a lot of our theater friends to get to know our father in just a totally different way …we’ll talk about that forever," Craig Hartfield said.
Hartfield kept busy with many other nonmedical activities.
"He played racquetball, softball on a league when we were in school, played tennis, fished actively during the season. He would plan fishing events for a week or weekend. He did that right up until last summer," Mark Hartfield said. "Oddly enough he hardly did any fishing here down in Florida."
"He was a walleye and northern pike kind of guy," Craig Hartfield said. His dad loved to plan fishing trips to Minnesota and Canada.
During retirement, Bundrock said, Hartfield organized medical lectures aboard cruise ships, verifying credentials and scheduling lecturers. The two often lectured together and traveled extensively.
"We’ve had quite a good life together and a wonderful family relationship here," Bundrock said. "All the boys now live in Florida. All six of the grandchildren now live here. Our oldest granddaughter is 18."
Linney said Hartfield was a good listener and a good mediator.
"He could get in the middle of a two- or more-sided argument and help resolve it," Linney said.
Hartfield was also active in his church. And Linney said Olmsted Medical Center built a good reputation because of Hartfield. OMC, Linney said, "provided a good alternative to the ‘giant’ in the other part of town," referring to Mayo Clinic.
Hartfield never lost the joy of his early professional life.
"Even though for a number of years after he moved to Tampa he would have been out of patient care, I think he always — you could tell by the stories that he would tell — he just loved kids, even though that was not what he did with the last 20 years or so of his life," Linney said.
That was true in his family life as well.
"Jim and I were partners for 18 years," Bundrock said. "His former wife Sally and I, plus the four boys and the grandchildren, have been wonderful friends."