On behalf of the PSWD board, I share the very sad news that our recent past president, Michael G. Hart, died on March 12, 2021. Michael served on the Pacific Southwest District for several years, in various roles. He concluded his service this past June 2020 as the Board President. Always a consummate leader, Michael’s final action in service to our shared faith tradition was to lead our team in the last minute pivot to the all-online virtual district assembly last April. It seems somehow inconceivable that this was just a year ago. A gifted and talented leader, he brought out the best in all those he worked or interacted with, and was pleasantly well-adapted in keeping meetings on time and on agenda. This skill was certainly a favorable and welcome trait for someone in leadership. Michael had an open spirit and a winning smile, we on the PSWD Board will certainly miss him, and we know that so many of you will also. As you will read below in the obituary prepared by his beloved wife Susan, Michael was an active UU and gave countless hours to our shared faith tradition. We mourn his passing and give thanks for a life well lived and shared with so many.
Rev. Kevin Lawson
Michael Gene Hart
Beloved husband, friend, Unitarian Universalist, and occasional half-brother and cousin, died on March 12, 2021, at age 67, after a gut-wrenching battle with cancer. Born on May 23, 1953, in Tucson, AZ, to USAF Lt. Colonel Gene Hart and Charmaine Donohue, Michael grew up primarily in Tucson and Phoenix, AZ, and Albuquerque, NM… and various other transient locales. Michael found stability, direction, and community from his fellow students, teachers, and the Catholic brothers of The Abbey School in Canon City, Colorado; attending from 1967 to graduation in May of 1971. For college, he attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, graduating from Raymond College in 1975. His interest in acting took him to New York City where he studied at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. He worked as an actor— mostly summer stock— until he re-evaluated his career path and pursued journalism at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
His first job after graduate school in 1990 was as the Editor-in-Chief of the Glendale Star and Peoria Times in the Phoenix, AZ, metropolitan area. It was here that he learned to love community journalism.
Michael’s interest in local journalism landed him a job with the Los Angeles Times in 1998 with the “Our Times” division that focused on the diversity of the vast L.A. neighborhoods. When the take-over of the L.A. Times by the Chicago Tribune ended the neighborhood orientation, Michael found another “local” niche in the business-to-business magazine realm. He edited, first, the San Fernando Valley edition of the L.A. Business Journal then moved on to editor of “Tradeshow Week” in the “B-to-B” family of Reed Elsevier publications. The dying of print journalism was not totally kind to Michael, even though he had the foresight to master digital formats and continued to work for a variety of B-to-B publications until his retirement in 2019.
Michael married Susan Hunt in Tucson on November 28, 1985. They shared a passion for camping, international travel, art, opera, books, liberal causes, dining out, and their beloved cats—to name a few. Though they ultimately opted to remain child-free, Michael and Susan found community and family through the Unitarian Universalist (UU) church. Michael’s social activism began in earnest in his college years when he worked for the rights of migrant workers in California’s Central Valley. His UU involvement further stoked his penchant for social justice causes, and he volunteered his time mentoring homeless youth and feeding the homeless. In the UU domain, Michael’s leadership skills led him to numerous board positions and presidencies, including his final role as President of the Pacific Southwestern District (PSWD). Always the one to fill other gaps at our various UU churches, Michael led hiking groups, book clubs, and delivered sermons. Of course, ever the journalist, he also wrote for the UU World.
In addition to his wife, Susan, Michael is survived by his half-sisters, Shirley Crotwell, Carol Castillo, and Sandy Bass, all of the greater Albuquerque, NM, area.
Donations to Camp DeBenneville Pines.