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A TRIBUTE TO THE ULTIMATE VOLUNTEER

Gerhard Daniel Hartman
(7/31/1941 -- 5/9/2005)

Dan's impact on the COPD Community was worldwide - covering virtually every country.

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.

cg