William Otto Hartmann, a man with a personality, spirit and sense of humor as big as the massive farm equipment he sold for decades, died on Oct. 16, 2022, at the Community Memorial Health Center in Hartley, Iowa. Willie, as he was known by all who loved listening to his tall tales, risqué jokes and boisterous laughter, died just weeks shy of his 90th birthday with his beloved wife of 63 years, Barbara, holding his hand at his bedside.
In addition to Barbara, Willie is survived by his children Bradley Hartmann (Tim); Brenda Jordan (Philip); Amy Hartmann (Jeff) and LeAnn Hartmann. His four kids were Willie’s pride and joy, the topic of his many stories over coffee at Barb’s Corner or the Everly co-op, and the reason he paid the University of Iowa 21 years worth of tuition and season football tickets. (Go Hawks!)
Willie was a fixture of the Everly community for almost his entire life. Born there to Otto and Mary Hartmann on November 14, 1932, he never strayed far from town or from the farmers who are its lifeblood. After marrying Barbara Harris on July, 12, 1959, Willie worked for Les Pearson for several years. He briefly lived in Webb, Iowa, working as a hired hand for the Brown family. He moved back to Everly, starting as a manager at the Harms International dealership and eventually becoming a partner. Farmers came far and wide to both buy tractors and parts – and to shoot the breeze with Willie Hartmann.
Farming – and serving farmers – was truly in Willie’s DNA. Even after he retired from Harms, Willie continued to work: for local businessman John Zalaznik; for the elevator in Everly; helping his nephew, Joel and Jim Christensen on their farm; and delivering farm equipment for Mauer Manufacturer. He drove an endless amount of miles – munching gas station popcorn and stopping for the occasional ice cream cone. He worked until he was nearly 85 simply because he enjoyed farming and farmers so much.
Willie loved Everly and giving back to the community that had raised and shaped him. He was a member of the Commercial Club until the day he moved into the Hartley nursing home. He volunteered for and supported any big event in town. He, Barb and the kids always sat front and center at Hope Lutheran, and Wille would beeline to the church basement for coffee – and laughs and fellowship – as soon as the service was done.
The Hartmann’s house in Everly was a second home to all their children’s friends. Willie always made an appearance in the basement, where movie nights and pool tournaments were happening, and he was as popular with the high school crowd as Brad, Brenda, Amy and LeAnn. The Hartmann’s big red conversion van was always filled with more Everly kids than it could technically hold! When the Hartmann’s house burned to the ground after a middle-of-the-night lightening strike, they rebuilt in the same spot, and that home, too, soon became the gathering spot when their kids (and all their friends) returned to Everly for reunions or holidays.
Willie was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Amos and Clifford, and his sister Berdeva, not to mention more friends and farmers from Everly than anyone could ever count. It’s certain that when he arrived in heaven, a table was already set with coffee and snacks – and the booming laughter and off-color jokes were flying within minutes.
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