Obituary: Paul Hartmann, 1953-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Paul Hartmann, 1953-2022 

Founder of Tall Paul's Tall Mall was a traveler, singer, guitarist, fisherman and literacy volunteer

click to enlarge Paul Hartmann - COURTESY
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Paul David Hartmann, 68, passed away on Friday, February 18, 2022, at the University of Vermont Medical Center while holding the hand of his beloved wife, Barbara. Born on November 18, 1953, in Dearborn, Mich., Paul spent his childhood there before receiving a degree in architecture from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he and Barbara met. Both Paul and Barbara were passionate about the environment and discovered Vermont through a summer program in social ecology at Goddard College. Drawn back to the state after finishing their degrees, they were married in Moretown and lived in Warren before settling in Montpelier, where they lived together for 34 years and raised their two boys.

Paul loved to play acoustic guitar; people were drawn to him for group singing using his personalized songbooks (in which the font got a bit larger over the years). Paul’s singing was legendary, whether it was around the campfire with dear friends at the annual multigenerational Lake Dunmore camping trip or at family holiday gatherings. His daily guitar practice was his own form of meditation, while he spread his love of music by giving lessons to many new guitarists over the years, including his oldest son, Aaron. His serenades captivated his infant granddaughter, Quinn, who now delights in singing songs to herself.

Paul enjoyed creating things, from design and carpentry to photography. He passed on his fascination with cameras and photography to his younger son, Kevin, who built on his father’s enthusiasm and made capturing images of the world into his life’s work. Paul made wooden building blocks for many of the newborns in his life — his children; children of friends; children of nieces and nephews; and, finally, his grandson, Liam, now 4, to whom he later gave real tools and materials to build projects of his own.

Paul was a champion for research into Marfan syndrome, the genetic disorder that resulted in his 7-foot height. He was a critical support for his two sons when they faced heart surgeries similar to his own. To provide other tall people with comfortable beds, sheets and household goods, Paul launched his own online business: Tall Paul’s Tall Mall, which he operated for multiple decades before selling it a year ago.

He gave his time and passion to many local groups, including the Montpelier Community Gospel Choir. He led and served for many years on the boards of the choir and other local organizations, including Downstreet Housing & Community Development and the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. He shared his love of reading through Everybody Wins, a volunteer read-aloud program where he helped foster a love of reading for three siblings from Montpelier. His passion for giving back inspired his younger son, Kevin, to dedicate his own time to causes supporting underserved children in Chicago.

Paul and Barbara loved to travel and explore the U.S. and the countries of Europe, particularly with their sons. Early on, they did house exchanges in England and Denmark, meeting people and experiencing new cultures. Later trips often involved their students from Vermont Technical College, and after retirement Paul and Barbara toured Greece and the Nile in Egypt, discovering ancient architectural wonders. Paul also appreciated returning home to Montpelier, where he could walk downtown and enjoy hikes in Hubbard Park with dear friends John and Liz Snell and their children Suzannah and Andrew.

Paul is predeceased by his parents, Warren Ernst Hartmann and Dorothy Mary Hartmann (Carter). Paul is survived by his wife, Barbara Conrey, of Montpelier, Vt.; his two sons, Aaron (Watertown, Mass.) and Kevin (Chicago, Ill.); his daughter-in-law Elizabeth Keenan (the daughter he always wanted to have); and his two grandchildren, Liam and Quinn Hartmann. He is also survived by his brothers Michael and Daniel, sister-in-law Cindy Hartmann, nieces Elizabeth Dizik (Hartmann) and Caroline Harris (Hartmann), and their families.

Growing up, Paul’s father shared his love of the water and fishing, which Paul passed on to his older son, Aaron, who became a marine biologist. Some of Paul’s favorite times were sitting in a boat on Lake Champlain, Lake Dunmore or Sharbot Lake in Canada — even if the fish weren’t biting. A few years ago, Paul sang a solo with the gospel choir of the song “If You Miss Me,” in which he changed some of the words into his own:

“If you miss me from singing, you can’t find me nowhere. / Come on up to glory, I’ll be singing up there” became “If you miss me from fishing, you can’t find me nowhere. / Come on up to glory, I’ll be fishing up there.”

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to causes important to Paul: the Marfan Foundation (marfan.org, whose work Paul credited with adding decades to his life), the Montpelier Community Gospel Choir or the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. A small memorial service will be held for close family, while a celebration of life gathering for all those who knew and loved him will be held in Montpelier during the summer.
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