Norman B. “Gabby” Hartnett, 96, a longtime resident of Framingham and most recently Hopkinton, died Thursday, May 9, 2019. Born in Framingham he was the proud son of the late Marie Hartnett.
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, he may very well have been speaking directly to Norman. A graduate of Framingham High working at the Dennison Factory and attending night school at Northeastern University and the only child of a single mother, he learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor while attending a movie at the old Gorman Theatre, and spent the next year convincing his mother to let him enlist in the Navy.
Norman served proudly on the USS Frederick Funston as a radioman, and was injured in the Philippines. True to the work ethic of his “Greatest Generation”, he opened Hartnett Insurance Agency and served as a selectman for the Town of Framingham. After selling his business, he then went on to work as an advocate for the DAV in Boston, and later became the National Service Director in Washington until his retirement in 1983.
Retirement didn’t last long. Norman then served as chief of staff for the Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Jesse Brown in Washington, D.C. Later he served on the Advisory Committee for Special Disabilities, often traveling to Walter Reed Medical Center.
Norman spent his entire life helping others, he mentored at risk youth in the CASA program, and for more than 20 years brought charitable gifts to the Clinton House in Framingham. Besides his family, Norman was most proud of his naval service.
Norman is survived by his children, Michelle M. of Westborough, Michael D. & his wife Linda of Pascoag, RI and family, David of Ashland, Dennis McKenney & his wife Darlene and family of NH, Donna LaFemina of MD, and John La Femina of FL, his grandchildren, Devin, Justin and Connor Macomber, and Rachel, Alana, and Christian Lewis, and 8 great grandchildren.
Family and friends will honor and remember Norman by gathering for visiting hours in the McCarthy, McKinney & Lawler Funeral Home, 11 Lincoln St. Framingham on Sunday, May 19th from 1-5 P.M. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made in Norman’s name to: Clinton House, 61 Clinton St. Framingham, MA 01702, www.smoc.org.