A TRIBUTE TO THE ULTIMATE VOLUNTEER
Gerhard Daniel Hartman
(7/31/1941 -- 5/9/2005)
impact on the COPD Community was worldwide - covering virtually
Dan was a major influence on so many people over the years. He has
shown so many the true spirit of volunteerism. You can see the
impact he had on those afflicted with this disease in some of the
messages posted that were posted in the loving thoughts section after he passed. The number of COPDers who received their
first help and guidance from Dan is countless.
A common thread in messages is "Dan was the first one to reach out
and help me after my diagnosis."
Dan's giving of himself to help others did not start here, however.
Dan gave years to his country as a career soldier, serving several
years in Vietnam. After the service, he beat the alcohol demon, and
became an active member of AA, serving eight years managing Club
East, an Alcoholics Anonymous facility providing meeting rooms and
snack/luncheon areas. During those eight years, Dan had some rough
days managing the club, while helping many, many people. He was a
helping hand, a friendly shoulder and voice of reason for newbies,
old-timers and others not associated with the program.
After those eight years the stress began to take its toll, and he
"retired" again, only to get bored a while later. He rejoined the
work force in the automotive field - a second love of his. Four
years later, however, Dan's health had deteriorated to the degree
that he was unable to walk well enough to continue. This time in
retirement, he ended up on oxygen, and started down the road first
to COPD-Support and then on to COPD-International while also
continuing an active support role in AA.
Dan was an active host from the very beginning of
COPD-International's Web site. On the morning of June 26 2002, the
site opened to the public. A little after 9 that same morning, Dan
had been to the site and had already joined. His first words were
asking how he could help. Three days later the chat rooms were
opened and we had our first hosted chats.
Our first "volunteer" host was Dan who took the 9 p.m. chat that
same night. Over the years, Dan touched many, many thousands of
chat visitors in his scheduled chats, and untold thousands more that
he helped as he came into the COPD room during non-scheduled
times. Family members have told me that they were "instructed" to
not call at chat times - so great was his dedication. Even in the
later days, Dan did not divulge to most how serious things were,
instead reaching out and helping as his time allowed.
Rest well my good friend, for you have taught us all a great lesson:
what it truly means to give of yourself to help others. You have
rewritten the page on volunteerism.
You will forever have our deepest love and respect.