Ann Hartman ’43, 95, died peacefully at home on Nov. 5 surrounded by family and friends who were keeping vigil. She was a woman who lived a memorable life, full of love, loving, and adventure. At age 21, she traveled to Oregon and, with a friend, built a cabin, acquired a goat named Gertrude and a chicken named Ears, taught school, and planted lily bulbs in the fields. At 40, she left her job as executive director of a mental health clinic to pursue a Ph.D. On her 50th birthday she went for a balloon ride. On her 60th she went parasailing over Lake Tahoe. At 70 she climbed a mountain in Sicily and, still later, spent four days snorkeling off of the Great Barrier Reef.
In between these adventures she became one of the most respected and prominent social workers of her era, a national leader, scholar, writer, teacher, and administrator. She retired in 1996 as Dean of the Smith College School for Social Work but continued working until age 85, at Fordham as a visiting professor and at Smith as head of human subjects review, still advising students and serving on dissertation committees.
(Lois) Hartman was born in 1926 in Rochester, NY, the daughter of Lois Elaine Spencer and William Weaver Hartman, Jr. Her parents separated when she was 18 months old, leaving her mother to raise Ann and her older sister Betty on her own. Her mother was away for months at a time, first recovering from tuberculosis at a sanitarium and later completing an eight-month internship as a student at the Smith School for Social Work. After 6th grade, supremely bored and underachieving, Ann transferred to the Harley Country Day School in Rochester. Ann was fond of saying “Harley saved my life.” She went on to graduate from Wellesley College in 1947. Five feet 10 and ½ inches tall, a cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth, a hippy before her time, many thought her weird while a few teachers and friends recognized her brilliant mind and leadership potential. After Wellesley, Ann studied philosophy at the University of Chicago for a year and later obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Smith and her Ph.D. from the Columbia University School of Social Work.
She began her career in social work as a caseworker in child welfare in Akron, Ohio and in 1958 became the young Executive Director of the Southeast Nassau Guidance Center in Seaford, New York. Under her leadership this new community mental health clinic developed brief treatment, a crisis program, and a large volunteer program. This was a challenging but also difficult period as Ann lost her dear friend and housemate Jane Davis to cancer. She turned to bowling, becoming a champion bowler and making many new friends.
Ann, who lived in West Islip, L.I., for many years, loved the ocean and her condominium at Fire Island Pines. She and her enormous standard poodle, Sarah, would board the ferry to the Pines every Friday afternoon during the summer months. In 1965 she was joined by Joan Laird and her 18-month old son Duncan, beginning a partnership and later marriage that endured until her death.
In 1969, Ann began her academic career as an associate professor of social work at Fordham University, and in 1974 moved to Ann Arbor to become professor and chair of social work practice at The University of Michigan. In Ann Arbor, Ann obtained a large National Child Welfare grant to train social workers from all over the country in family-centered child welfare practice. She, Joan, and four others formed Ann Arbor Center for the Family, a clinical, educational, and research family therapy center that still thrives. These were fruitful years, exploring the emerging, exciting family therapy field, seeing families, taking and leading workshops, bringing family theory and practice ideas into teaching and eventually publishing Family-Centered Social Work Practice, a text co-authored with Joan and used widely nationally and internationally for many years. The next move, in 1986, was to Northampton to become the Dean and Elizabeth Marting Treuhaft Professor of Social Work at the Smith College School for Social Work. Her goals for the school were many, the most important among them to diversify the faculty and student body and to strengthen the curriculum. One memorable event was her invitation to all alumni of color to return for several days to help the School make plans to recruit and mentor students of color and to make the program more relevant to their needs and interests. Under her leadership, the school became far more diverse, anti-racism work began, the curriculum was revised several times to better meet the educational needs of all of the students, and Smith, a school which had historically been a major leader in social work education but had become more narrowly focused and insulated, was once again gained national prominence.
Throughout her career, Ann was a prolific writer, the author or editor of seven books and monographs and over 100 articles, chapters, and papers at conferences. Early in her career, as a doctoral student, she became interested in systems theory as a metaphor for social work theory and practice, producing seminal writings on this topic. One of her most challenging assignments was the editorship of Social Work, the profession’s signature journal. Her editorials, on many different and often highly controversial topics, were widely read and quoted, and later published in book form. Her emphasis on valuing many ways of knowing was to change the character of the journal. One of her articles, “Diagrammatic Assessment of Family Relationships,” published in Social Casework, became the most re-published article ever to appear in the long history of that journal. Later in her career she was influenced by postmodern ideas and the concepts of story and narrative, writing, speaking and transforming ideas for social work practice once again.
Charismatic, inspiring, and tireless, Ann was widely sought after as a speaker and consultant, traveling to almost every state and many different countries, perhaps most memorable her trips to Australia and New Zealand. The recipient of many honors and awards, perhaps her favorite (the prodigal daughter returning) was the Wellesley Medal in 2000, Wellesley’s highest honor. Other honors included honorary doctorates from Smith and Tulane, a Lifetime Achievement award from the American Family Therapy Academy, election to the Columbia University School of Social Work’s Hall of Fame, and named a Social Work Pioneer by the National Association of Social Workers.
Ann loved the woods and the water and was an inveterate tent camper, crisscrossing the country several times. She liked to say that she could raise the tent, make martinis, and cook dinner over a camp stove or fire in under an hour. She loved to paint and knit, mastered carpentry producing a large parquet deck with a place for a tree, vegetable gardening, and was a gourmet cook who never tired of entertaining friends and family. The family spent 20 years visiting their “camp” on Great Pond, in Maine, sailing, swimming, canoeing, and partying with friends and family on their pontoon boat. Three generations of beloved standard poodles accompanied the family on many of their various adventures.
Her personal qualities gained her many friends. Interested in everyone and everything, she was a consummate listener. Highly energetic but unfailingly calm, patient, generous, and optimistic, she always looked for and found the best in everyone. Her students at Michigan, many of whom kept in touch with her for years, lined up in the halls hoping to register for her classes.
Passionate international travelers, Ann and Joan, who both loved wildlife, went on two safaris, the first in Kenya and the second in Botswana and South Africa. Also memorable were trips to Australia, India, Israel, Greece, and Egypt. Their travels included three guided walks, the most challenging the famous Milford Track in New Zealand.
Ann is survived by her life partner of 56 years, Joan Laird, and their son Duncan Laird, whom Ann adored and helped raise from the time he was a toddler. After the death of his father when Duncan was 40, Ann adopted him. Duncan met his wonderful wife Meg, who was a student at the Smith College School for Social Work, soon joining her there and continuing the tradition of social work in his family and hers. Ann is also survived by three much-loved grandchildren, Hannah, Julian, and Corinne, as well as her nephew Ben Turner (Cathy), niece Patty Turner-Massey (Nathan) and niece Kate Coates (Phil), and several grand-nieces and nephews. “Aunt Ann” was very special to her sister Betty’s children and they to her. She was pre-deceased by her sister Betty Turner, her nephew Andy Turner, and niece Maggie Hough.
The family would like to thank the wonderful people at the Fisher Home Hospice and the Cooley Dickinson Hospice for their care and support during Ann’s illness. There will be a private burial arranged by the Ahearn Funeral Home, and a celebration of her life will be held at a later date. Contributions in her honor may be made to organizations that support anti-racism, voting rights, climate change action, or the charity of your choice.