Worthington News


Community leader Hart buried with full military honors


Joe Hart gave so much to his community and his country that it seemed only fitting that he be selected as grand marshal of the Worthington Memorial Day Parade -- twice.

He died June 18 at age 77.

Hart served in the Marines in the 1960s and remained committed to being an advocate for all veterans throughout his life. In recognition of those contributions, he was the only person to twice lead the community's Memorial Day Parade.

"It's not for me; it's for all the veterans who have served over the years," he said when learning he had been named grand marshal a second time in 2013. He also led the parade once in the 1980s.

Hart also was known in Worthington as the man committed to seeing that the community commemorate Patriots Day every Sept. 11 since 2001.

He withstood the criticism of some who said the day should not be remembered, organizing moving remembrances on the Village Green each year.

He said he wanted to make sure that what occurred Sept. 11, 2001, is not forgotten and that the first responders and the military men and women who fought for their country received the honor and respect they deserved.

He also served as a member of the Worthington Board of Education from 1984 to 1991.

Hart was a real-estate agent in Worthington and served as president of the then Worthington Realtors in 1984 and 1994.

He was born in Concord, N.H., on Aug. 29, 1936, and went to the University of Nebraska on a football scholarship. He remained a Cornhuskers fan, wearing Huskers red until the day of his death.

After five years in the Marines, he went to Creighton University and earned an MBA.

He and his wife, Judy, raised three sons in Worthington.

He was active as a youth-league football coach and in the Worthington High School Athletic Association, for which he served as president in 1982-83.

He also was behind a movement to memorialize Worthington and Thomas Worthington High School graduates who died during military duty. A memorial is in the lobby of Thomas Worthington High School.

Hart also was active in the American Cancer Society and was named its volunteer of the year in 1989.

His contributions to veterans and veterans organizations were numerous and include being an active member of the American Legion for 35 years and the Marine Corps League for 25 years. He was a founder of the Mid-Ohio Marine Foundation in 2005.

Besides Judy, he is survived by his sons, Mike, Sean and Bob; his brother, Bob; and six grandchildren.

A funeral was June 23 at St. Peter Catholic Church. He was buried with full military honors, presented by the Leasure-Blackston American Legion Post 239 and the U.S. Marine Corps, at Flint Cemetery.