Brent Hartley (1964-2020)

McComb mortician helped identify 9/11 victims' remains.

The Blade
Sat, 23 May 2020 04:00:00 GMT

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MCCOMB, Ohio — Brent Hartley, who with his mother operated a McComb, Ohio funeral home for 17 years and spent three months in New York assisting with the identification of remains following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks there, died Wednesday in ProMedica Toledo Hospital. He was 55.

Relatives said he succumbed to “multiple complications from diabetes.”

Mr. Hartley had officially joined the family business, Hartley Funeral Home, after graduating from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Sciences in 1988.

As a member of the federal Disaster Mortuary Response Team and Ohio Funeral Directors’ Association Mortuary Response Team, Mr. Hartley was dispatched to large-scale disaster areas, including the Jan. 9, 1997 crash near Maybee, Mich., of Comair Flight 3272, in which 26 passengers and three crew died.

His other assignments in that role included work in Gulfport, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina in 2005; the Aug. 6, 1997 crash of Korean Air Flight 801 in Guam that killed 229 of 254 people on board, and an August, 1998 flood in Del Rio, Texas, from Tropical Storm Charley that killed 14.

But he was proudest, relatives said, of his work at the “Ground Zero” site that helped give relatives closure after al-Qaeda hijackers flew jets into New York’s World Trade Center towers, killing nearly 3,000 people — many of whose remains were unrecognizable after the twin skyscrapers collapsed.

He later gave public presentations about his experiences as a disaster-response team member “with the purpose of letting others know the value his profession could bring to people during their time of need.”

Mr. Hartley was born July 30, 1964, in Cincinnati to Richard and Joann Hartley, who moved their family to McComb in 1966 to found their funeral home.

After graduating Findlay High in 1982, he operated a restaurant, B’Michael’s, in McComb before enrolling at the University of Findlay in 1985, then transferring to the mortuary college in Cincinnati.

He started at Hartley Funeral Home as an associate funeral director and embalmer, working alongside his parents, and became co-owner upon his father’s passing in 1998. He and his mother operated the funeral home until they sold it and retired in 2015, after which he moved to Marblehead, Ohio.

While in McComb, Mr. Hartley was a three-term president of the Rotary Club, a member of the local Jaycees, a trustee and founding member of McComb Community Awareness, and he served on McComb Village Council. He coached varsity golf and wrestling at McComb High School and junior-high wrestling and football in the district.

Mr. Hartley is survived by his mother, Joann, and sister, Dr. Brenda Hartley.

Visitation will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Hanneman Funeral Home, McComb. A funeral service beginning at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the McComb mortuary will be live-streamed on the Hanneman page on Facebook.

The family suggests tributes to Life Connection of Ohio, Maumee, or the McComb High School athletic department.