Lawrence A. Hartnett Jr., a longtime Tottenville resident and Korean war veteran who dedicated himself to veterans’ causes and his family and friends, died Monday, June 24, at home after a long illness. He was 87.
As a boy and young man growing up in depression era Manhattan, Larry was a Boy Scout, boxed at the Kip's Bay Boys Club and delivered groceries for Gristede's to the likes of Katharine Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. In 1944, he and his sister, the late Mary Porth, participated as extras in a scene in THE LOST WEEKEND, when Ray Milland stalked down 3rd Avenue in a drunken daze. "They took us out of school and gave us pizza and Pepsi as payment" he said.
Larry enlisted in the Army in 1951 and served in the 82nd Airborne during the Korean conflict from 1951-53, making 30 jumps.
Following his discharge, he remained in the US Army Reserve and took a job at the Associated trucking company. It was there that he met Diane Mammana of Tottenville, who was his supervisor. They would marry in 1956 and raise five children in the Tottenville home they purchased in 1964. He lived in the home for the rest of his life.
Larry worked at various major trucking companies as a traffic manager throughout his career before retiring in 1990. He took pride in his ability to work out the best shipping rates for his companies.
While helping to raise his family, Larry also found time to engage with his community, as a manager in the South Shore Little League and as a member and treasurer of a number of veterans and civic organizations, including the Knights of Columbus, Stolzenthaler Council, Korean War Veterans, BPO Elks and the Ancient Order of the Hibernians. His father-in-law, Tom Mammana, got him involved in the Beauvais-Hudson American Legion Post and he would become a lifetime member. He served as Richmond County Commander in 2003-2004. In 2012, he was named “Legionnaire of the Year” in the 2d District.
As a member of these veterans groups, Larry often participated in the decorating of graves on holidays.
Larry joined the South Shore Swim Club in 1966 and remained an active member until 2010, helping to run the organization's clubhouse and activities for years. During this time, he and SSSC friends would begin taking cruises, a pastime that became an avocation. Larry started organizing memorable cruises and bus trips to places like Branson, Missouri, for organizations he was involved in, including the Tottenville chapter of the AARP. All told, he went on 49 cruises in his lifetime and regretted that his illness prevented him from reaching the magic number of 50.
Larry put his skill with numbers to good use, helping to prepare tax returns for seniors as part of an AARP program. He was an avid Jeopardy fan and took pride in beating the buzzer to the answer. He was also an avid reader, crossword puzzler and gardener, and proudly gave away tomatoes and other vegetables from his garden. An animal lover, he particularly loved his cats, and his children fondly remember his most notable catchphrase: “Don’t let the cat out!”
In addition to his work with the veterans and civic organizations, Larry enjoyed tennis, golf, bowling and horseshoes. He was a longtime member of the Golden Oldies bowling league. Every Election Day for years, he could be found volunteering at St. Paul’s Church.
Larry is survived by his five children - Deborah Hartnett of Manhattan, Shawn Hartnett (Lynn) of Tottenville, Patricia Reiss (Peter) of Three Forks, Montana, Kevin Hartnett (MaryLou) of
Tottenville and Sharon Geidel (Michael) of Pine Island, NY; thirteen grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. The family also wishes to thank his longtime aide Gilda Brown for her devoted service.
Funeral from Bedell-Pizzo Funeral Home on Thursday at 9:30Am. A mass of Christian burial will be held at Our Lady Help of Christian's RC Church at 10:00AM. Interment to follow at Resurrection Cemetery.
Friends may visit on Wednesday from 2-4 & 7-9PM
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project or the American Cancer Society.
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