Richard (Rick) Hartung, Janesville, WI (1938-2013)

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

January 31, 1938 - October 30, 2013

Richard (Rick) Hartung was born on Jan. 31, 1938, to Maurice and Gertrude Hartung in Columbus, OH, moving shortly afterward with them to Flossmoor, IL, where he remained until his marriage to Ilah Bjorklund in Chicago, on Aug. 27, 1960. He died Oct. 30, 2013, after a long illness.

Richard attended the University of Chicago Laboratory School, Shimer College, and Yale University School of Architecture, graduating from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor's Degree in History. His interest in 19th century American history focused primarily on Midwestern expansion and industrialization. He researched and wrote a biography of James L. Jones, developer of a horse railway system in early Chicago. Rick specialized in 19th century architecture, but was also devoted to Frank Lloyd Wright and his contemporaries.

Through further research into 19th century vernacular buildings, he researched cobblestone houses, including those prominent in the Beloit area. He became director of the Rock County Historical Society in 1964, and supervised the relocation and restoration of the historic Stone House, now sited at the Tallman House campus. During his 25 year career as director, Rick was responsible for the development of the RCHS archival holdings of Rock County history; the concept of rotating exhibitions of collections; sponsoring visiting national museum exhibitions; and development of exhibitions on the significance of regional industries and agriculture. During his tenure, the RCHS opened its first museum of Rock County history in the Armory. Rick advocated for meaningful interpretive history that connected modern audiences to their historical counterparts. He also worked to expand community awareness in historic preservation and adaptive reuse. Historic preservation awareness resulted in grants to RCHS for an historic survey of all Rock County buildings, with the publication of Rock County Historic Sites and Buildings. This survey led directly to the designation of numerous buildings and districts within Rock County on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rick was also responsible for establishing collegial relationships amongst the local history and small museum groups; resource sharing and access to professional museum standards for maintenance of collections and archival materials. This collaboration was also significant to increased recognition in local cities, such as Janesville, Beloit and Evansville, as well as Rock County government. Under Rick's supervision, the RCHS was an early recipient of certification by the American Association of Museums for its professional curatorial and interpretive efforts.

Community involvement in local/regional history and our cultural assets was stimulated through public events to draw citizens to appreciation for its place in Wisconsin growth through the first major public art fair in the area, the Tallman Art Fair, now an annual event for the region. Rick had numerous interests that built collaboration throughout the fine arts organizations and non-profit communities. Several communities in Rock County now have Historic House Tours following the one started by Rick in Janesville. Rick was also presenter of much-in-demand slide shows and bus tours of history and architecture. He was named to the Rock County Hall of Fame in 2006, for his outstanding achievements in preservation.

Following his leaving RCHS, he became the Director of the Evanston Historical Society located in the Charles Gates Dawes House, vice president under Calvin Coolidge. Following his retirement, he ran a small business and consulted on private National Register nominations. He was also greatly involved in development of the adaptive reuse of his former college campus in Mt. Carroll, IL, into the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies. In Wisconsin, he was on the committee to nominate Black Point in Lake Geneva, to the National Register, and to include it within the state list of historic places.

Richard had two sons, Daniel of Janesville, and Gregor (Roxan) of Union, MI; grandson, Alex; and is also survived by the grandchildren he and Ilah raised: Gregor, Jr. of Necedah, Marie and Kayla of Janesville; two great-grandchildren; nieces and nephew; cousin, Arlene Knudsen of Janesville; and cousin, Rev. Charles Ellinwood of Michigan. He was preceded in death by his brother and parents.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, at 11 a.m. at FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, 54 S. Jackson St., Janesville. Memorials may be directed to the Rock County Historical Society; the Alzheimer's Support Center; ECHO; or the Friends of Oak Hill Chapel.


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