Funeral held for longtime Warner Robins employee Hartsoe

jkovac@macon.comFebruary 17, 2014 

Longtime Warner Robins city employee Ted Hartsoe, who went on to be named the city’s utilities director, died Sunday. He was 72.

Hartsoe, a North Carolina native, signed on with the city’s gas department in the mid-1960s after eight years in the Air Force.

One of his first jobs was servicing gas-powered air conditioners the city sold to residents and businesses -- with around-the-clock maintenance guarantees. If someone’s air conditioner went on the fritz after hours, Hartsoe would often get called at home.

“Once they got your home phone number, they would never forget it,” Jeanette Hartsoe, his wife of 51 years, said Monday.

But Hartsoe never seemed to mind.

“He loved the city of Warner Robins,” his daughter Donna Austin said. “He was devoted.”

Hartsoe was named utility director in 1995. He retired in 2007.

“He never really wanted to retire,” his wife said. “He worked as long as he could. And even before he was the boss, even if it wasn’t his job, he would go out (all hours) and try to help.”

Be it broken water lines or other utility emergencies, Hartsoe was more often than not on the scene.

“I know there were days when I would see him and would think, ‘Why aren’t you home in bed?’” recalled Henrietta McIntyre, who was a city councilwoman for two decades and interim mayor. “He was out there plugging along. ... A mighty good employee. One of the best we’ve had.”

When Donald Walker was mayor, the city named a softball field at Peavy Park after Hartsoe. In a ceremony, Hartsoe threw out the first pitch.

Jeannette Hartsoe said her husband found out he had cancer of the esophagus soon after his 2007 retirement. He underwent treatment but the cancer returned in January.

Sometime in the late 1980s, while Hartsoe was repairing something, the concrete lid of a utility cover toppled, crushing and severing his left thumb.

“He drove himself to the hospital,” his daughter Donna said.

For years, Hartsoe taught air-conditioning repair at a Macon tech school in his off hours.

“He could fix anything that had a motor to it. But if it was a piece of board now, he couldn’t saw it straight for nothing,” Jeanette Hartsoe said.

Hartsoe worked under eight mayors in his time with the city, but he always seemed to take the regime changes in stride.

“He always said when a new mayor came in,” his widow said, “that it wouldn’t be long before everything would go back to the way it was.”

Hartsoe’s funeral Monday was private.

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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