Feb. 19, 1919 - Oct. 14, 2017
Jack Hartnett lived an exceptional life. He was born to John and Emma (O’Halloran) Hartnett in Niagara Falls, New York in 1919. Jack spent his early years in the Buffalo, New York with the other Irish immigrant families from County Kerry. About 1926, his father, mother, two sisters and Jack drove to Montana where his father worked as a cable splicer traveling throughout the State repairing AT&T long distance lines. Settling in Helena, Jack attended St. Helena Catholic grade school and Helena high school. A massive earthquake hit Helena in 1935 severely damaging the town and flattening the high school so two of Jack’s high school years were spent in railroad cars. The students persevered in all the usual activities including Jack who was active in high school organizations and served as Senior Class President. He often told tales of his 11th Ave neighborhood friends: Barney Grainey, Dan Cronin, Elaine Phillips (Powers), Evelyn Jorud and Morley Cooper. (Morley coincidently was with Jack at the Navy’s Pensacola Air Station in 1941.) Jack also enjoyed helping and spending time with Bill Hicks on his ranch northwest of Helena. In 1987, he was happy to see all his friends at their 50th high school reunion.
Jack attended Carroll College where he played football as a Center and served as President of the Student Council. He graduated in 1941. In 2009, Jack attended the 100 year Anniversary of Carroll College as the oldest living graduate in attendance.
During his college years, he took flying lessons and received his pilot license enabling him to join the Navy as a naval aviator after college graduation. In 1940, he met the love of his life, Bette Jones, and they were married in 1942 at St. Helena Cathedral. They moved to New York City where Jack was assigned to Floyd Bennett Naval Air Station. Jack served in the Navy from 1941 to 1945. He was trained as a carrier pilot but went on to become a test pilot at Floyd Bennett. He tested most planes the Navy bought and then ferried them coast to coast to be used in the wars in the Pacific and Europe. Jack estimated that he tested or flew 5 to 6 airplanes every work day during his time at Floyd Bennett.
After the war, the Hartnett’s moved to St. Maries Idaho where Jack owned and operated the Texaco distributorship. Then, in 1960s the family settled in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Jack loved to fly. He owned 3 different airplanes in his lifetime including a twin engine Bamboo Bomber.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Jack and Bette spent winters in Mesa, Arizona close to a small airport and a golf course.
Golf was Jack’s other passion. In retirement, he earned the “title” of the oldest golfer at his courses in Coeur d’Alene and Mesa, Arizona. At 96 years of age he was still able to play 18 hole rounds twice a week and score consistently in the low 90s.
Jack leaves behind his brother, David, in Helena, MT and his 4 children, 10 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. He was preceded in the death by his lovely wife, Bette, in 2009.
Please visit Jack’s memorial and sign his online guestbook at www.Yatesfuneralhomes.com