Page Last Updated: Monday, 10 June 2019 19:08 EDT, 2010, 2014, 2019

In Memory of Colonel Dean S. Hartley, Jr. (USMC Retired)




Colonel Dean S. Hartley, Jr. (USMC retired) passed away Friday, March 19, 2010 at St. Francis Hospital in Monroe, Louisiana.

He was born in Redland, GA on August 3, 1920 to Bernice Blackmon Hartley and Dean Stanley Hartley and raised in Darlington, SC. After graduating from Wofford College in 1941, Col Hartley entered military active duty. Hartley served heroically as a pilot in the Pacific Theater in World War II, in Korea, and in Vietnam. He earned his MA from Stanford University in 1951. Later in his Marine Corps career, he served as Director of the School of Naval Warfare at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, and as Director of the Marine Corps Extension School at Quantico, VA. In 1971, after 30 years active duty service, Col Hartley was recruited to develop and head the School of Aviation at Northeast Louisiana University, where he taught until his second retirement in 1988. Much to the delight of his children, at that time he shed some of his “Great Santini” persona, grew a white beard, and embraced being mistaken for both Ernest Hemingway and Colonel Sanders. He thoroughly enjoyed his college students at NLU and maintained relationships with many of them throughout later years as his bonus children, a great comfort to both him and his late wife Ruth, as none of their grown children made the move with them to Louisiana. A decorated officer, he earned the following: Distinguished Flying Cross with two stars, Air Medal with eight stars, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V," Presidential Unit Citation, 1st Division Guadalcanal, Navy Unit Commendation, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with three stars, Victory Medal WW II, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Letter of Appreciation (2), and he is credited with 4 1/2 air combat kills at Guadalcanal. An artist and oriental art collector with many related publications to his credit, Col Hartley was also Past President of the Japanese Sword Society of the US (JSSUS), Past President of the Southern California Sword Society (Nanka Token Kai), Sensei and Honorary Life Member of the Florida Token Kai, and a member of the Dallas Token Kenkyu Kai. Col. Hartley’s dress blues and other items are on permanent display at the Aviation Museum located at the Monroe Airport. More information is available at his website at ColHartley.

Col. Hartley was predeceased by his wife of 60 years, Ruth Boyd Hartley, and by two of his brothers, Philip and Robert Hartley. He is survived by his three children: Dean S. Hartley III and his wife Eileen of Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Patricia H. Partnow of Anchorage, Alaska; and Barbara M. Hartley and her husband Cloyde W. Wiley III of Urbanna, VA; seven grandchildren: Theresa Hartley and Elise Hartley Henderson, Seth and Alix Partnow, Erica and Matthew Gatti, and Shannon Gatti McCarthy; and three great grand children. He is also survived by two brothers, Carol S. Hartley of Florida, and Michael O. Hartley of North Carolina.

A visitation was held from 5 – 8 PM at the Kilpatrick Funeral Home in Monroe on Tuesday, March 23. Services were held at Grace Episcopal Church in Monroe at 1:30 PM on Wednesday, March 24, and the burial was at Mulhearn Memorial Park.


We are gathered together because our father and your friend, Dean Hartley, has died. We are gathered together here because we each have a nagging suspicion that we, too, might die sometime. The church was founded by people who had something to say about life, death, and the hereafter, people who knew and heard the Word.

But I’m not going to talk about the mystery of death. I’ll leave that to Father Riley. I’m going to talk about a different mystery, the Mystery of the Trinity. We say there is one God, but three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The long version or versions always end unsatisfactorily with the equivalent of, “we don’t really understand how it works; we just believe it is so.” I’m not going to explain this Mystery, I’m going to talk about my father; however, you might see some slight parallels that help.

I don’t know anyone who can be easily defined. Each person has a variety of interests and passions and it seems as if each person is perceived differently by the people who know him or her.

Our Dad was an aviator. He flew airplanes in the Marine Corps for 30 years. He flew propeller fighter planes in the Pacific in World War II. He flew jet fighter planes in the Korean War. He flew C-130 refuellers in the Vietnam War. In the non-war periods he flew a great variety of planes. After he retired from the Marines, he taught aviation at ULM for 17 years. Our Dad was an aviator and a good one.

Our Dad was an artist. He drew with pencil and with pen and ink and painted with oils. He sculpted in clay and plasticine and carved meerschaum and silver. He created portraits and scenes from imagination. Our Dad was an artist and a good one.

Our Dad was a collector and student of art, mainly Oriental art. He collected cloisonne and tea bowls and netsuke. But, most importantly, he collected Japanese swords, Samurai swords. Dad said the only experts on Japanese swords were in Japan because you had to look at thousands of swords to understand them and become an expert. Perhaps that’s true; however, he was for a while the foremost expert on Japanese swords in America. He studied them and talked about them and collected them and taught others about them. Our Dad was a collector and a good one.

Dad had a variety of interests and passions and so was one person, but also different persons. More than that, we each experienced him differently.

I was his oldest child. He was big and strong. He was smart and all-knowing. He delivered praise and punishment. He was awesome.

My story for you concerns the painful lessons I had in the Socratic method. I asked, “how do they make macaroni?” He responded, “how do you think they make macaroni?” He proceeded to ask me questions that led to me inventing a hand-cranked machine that would extrude macaroni from dough. I learned two lessons – how to make macaroni and to be careful about asking questions!

Dean S. Hartley III

Barbara was his youngest child. She saw Dad from a different perspective.

It has taken me about 9 years to add my memories of Dad to this page. I have many excuses, among them that the memories are complex and probably TMI. So, I’ll hit a couple of the highlights.

When I saw/read “The Great Santini,” I related completely. I was the youngest of three and benefitted somewhat by learning to “fly under the radar” as much as possible. Even so, I can’t remember a birthday beyond age 12 that I was not “on restriction” for some minor infraction. I was a pretty good kid, (strike that, Mother gave birth to no “baby goats” – we were children) but Mother and Dad were exceptionally strict. There are two stories I still tell my friends, when they think they have heard everything.

Story #1.

To this day, I refuse to get sick, and if my body tries to “be sick,” I will not acknowledge it and take time off. Too much is missed and must be made up when you take a day off, a lesson I learned in 2nd grade.

Fast forward to 10th grade at Rogers High School. I actually was sick enough to stay home from school one day. Not only was I feverish and suffering a terribly sore throat, but I had completely lost my voice, total laryngitis. “Wouldn’t it be nice to take a day off and have Mother take care of me, for once?” But that is not how the day played out. Warning, this sounds like a “Mother” story, but Dad caps it off.

Mother had multiple meetings to attend that day, she even got out of bed before 10AM to take care of business. As she headed for the car, she told me she was expecting several calls and asked me to take the messages. Have you ever tried to answer the phone with laryngitis? I couldn’t even get out a croaking sound.

Additionally, it had been raining for approximately 40 days and nights and the basement, where our washer & dryer were, was flooded. No laundry had been done for a week and I was completely out of clean anything, from the skin out. So, I was stuck hobbling around the house in my ragged pajamas.

“Oh, Barbara,” Mother said as she headed out the door, “Men are coming to pump out the basement today. Be sure to let them in and show them the problem.”

Modest and vain 16-year-old girl in ugly, weak condition with no voice, dirty hair, and ratty PJs must now also direct strange men through the house, while answering the phone with no voice. You get the picture. The day was a disaster and I decided I would go to school the next day, even if I died in the process.

The next day I was up at pre-dawn, dressed and headed out of the house by 7:15. Dad yelled, “Don’t go anywhere until your mother takes your temperature and says you can go. And that’s an order!”

I had to ignore the order because the school day would be half over before Mother got up to fulfill those duties. Please note that she was not a bad mother, simply a night-owl who considered her children old enough to take care of themselves. But Dad was not that observant of the pattern. So, off I went to school.

I was sitting in Home Room waiting for the bell to send us to First Period when over the P.A. system came THE VOICE. It said, “Barbara Hartley, please report to the principal’s office. Your father is here.”

Oh, no! Everyone at school knew about Colonel Dean the Mean Marine. I found him scowling like a bulldog in the office, in full uniform with swagger stick in hand, angry because this detour had made him late for work. “I’m taking you home,” he said. “You defied a direct order!”

I told him I had to go to my locker to get my books. He followed my down the complex of halls, just as the bell rang and all the students emptied out to go to First Period. “Don’t walk ahead of me like you don’t know me!” he ordered as everyone in the hall gave me “the look” of fearful sympathy.

Yes, I was literally marched out of school and put on restriction for two weeks, not for SKIPPING school, but for GOING TO school. Who else do you know you can make that claim?

Story #2. This one is shorter.

We had moved to Quantico the summer before my Senior year in high school, after a glorious 4 years of deepening friendships in Newport, RI. This was not a happy move for me. Although I’d hoped to graduate and return up north to attend URI, Mother had other plans.

“Wouldn’t you like to stay in Virginia so you can come home every now and then?” Are you kidding? Quantico Marine Corps Base was NOT a HOME. Furthermore, after graduation, all of my classmates would scatter to the wind, their fathers having been transferred elsewhere. There would be no one to “come home” to. Mother won, of course.

I was forced to return to Quantico for Christmas break, two weeks of not too much fun and looking forward to getting back to campus in Harrisonburg. A week, possibly two, after starting my 2nd semester, I received THE LETTER from Dad. It read:

“Dear Barbara, we have moved to Louisiana. Our address is ……… Our new phone number is…….. Love, Dad.”

What? Not, “We are thinking of moving” or “we are going to move soon,” but “We be gone!” And guess what… Dad sent me the wrong phone number, to boot! Yep, they dumped me in Virginia and left me with no way to contact them. This is a true story.

I was 29 before my sister, Patty, informed me that M & D (Mother and Dad) were eccentrics. And all those years I had thought WE were normal and all of my friends had strange parents. At 29 the universe began to make sense.

But, to be clear, I know my parents loved me and I could tell dozens of stories of how they showed it. They might have been eccentric, but they were good and decent people who raised their children to be not sparrows, but eagles. This is a good thing, and I am appropriately thankful for the very good life (and plenty of unbelievably true stories) that they gave me.

Barbara M. Hartley

Patty was the middle child. In some ways perhaps she was the most like him of his children. They would go head-to-head over the dinner table over some minor point, bringing out the worst, most stubborn reaction in each. Yet, her story shows him as her hero.

I suppose everyone here has a story about my dad. This is the story that for me epitomizes his strong sense of justice and fierce dedication to those he loved.

We were living in Middletown, Rhode Island. I was in seventh grade, and I had diligently prepared for my confirmation into Trinity Episcopal Church. My mother’s mother was up from South Carolina for the occasion. Unbeknownst to her or my parents, I had flunked out of the confirmation class. You have to understand that I was a straight-A student, so I was mortified beyond description.

Here’s what had happened: The final exam contained a question: “Why do you want to take Holy Communion?” I had answered, having had a taste of mysticism in the confirmation class, “I am really curious about what happens to the bread and wine when it becomes the body and blood of Christ.” The instructor, Canon Ballard, ripped a hole through my paper with his angry response: “This is a sinful attitude and you must repent before you can be confirmed! F!”

So it’s Friday and confirmation is scheduled for Sunday. My mother says, “Odd that we haven’t gotten any word about the confirmation or the service that I thought was supposed to have happened last night for those being confirmed.” I burst into tears and confessed all.

My dad listened intently with tight lips. He didn’t say a thing and I waited for the onslaught, expecting to be banished from the family for life. Instead of yelling at me, he marched straight to the telephone. It became clear that he was calling Canon Ballard. I only heard his part of the conversation, of course, and here’s how it went: He introduced himself, “This is Col. Hartley!”, and recapped my answer and the response it garnered. Then he exploded into the phone:

“Of course she’s curious! She’s 12 years old! What do you expect from a 12-year old who has a brain in her head? She is being honest and there’s absolutely nothing sinful about that. In fact, you should reward rather than punish her honesty and the obvious thought she has given to the matter! … etc. etc.”

He then demanded that Canon Ballard have me confirmed with the rest of the class. Ah, but there was an obstacle: I had not attended the service the night before and therefore was not eligible to go before the bishop on Sunday. Dad had a solution: “You will hold a private service for Patty tonight.”

And so it came to pass. And I was confirmed with the other 12-year olds on Sunday.

That day, and many others, my dad was my hero.

Patricia H. Partnow

Finally, we have a brief comment from someone who was not a blood relative, who experienced yet one more person.

Col. Hartley (or The Col. as I knew him) always made me feel special. When he and your mom moved into the house across the street, I was 12 years old. (Where have 40 years gone?) My younger siblings and I were so excited to meet the new neighbors, we ran over to see them as they were still unpacking boxes. From that time on, The Col. treated me with respect and friendship. He always talked to me like I was a peer rather than a little girl.

I felt as if I could talk to him about anything. We discussed his art collections, politics, religion, WWII, and many other topics. When my daughter was in Girl Scouts, her troop traveled to Monroe to meet “a veteran of WWII.” He made all those little girls experience the thrill of his learning to fly, the terror of being shot down, and the joy of being reunited with his family.

Myra Canterbury

Each of you here has his or her own experiences with Dean Hartley. If we listed them all, we might seem to be describing several different people. Yet, they all concern a single person: Dean S. Hartley, Jr. We don’t see this as a Mystery – because this situation is true for everyone we know.

Today we are here because Dean Hartley has died. His mortal remains lie in the casket before us. But we remember the experiences we had with him and the impact he had on us and we are consoled that today he rests with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three persons, one God.

Memorial Thoughts

He was a friend of many years, and will be sorely missed.

Andy Quirt

Words cannot express my great sadness upon reading your email this morning. Your Father was not just a great friend - he was my teacher, my mentor, my inspiration…! It was Dean’s original encouragement that helped make Florida Token Kai a reality; and, his continuing support and guidance over these many years that made it a success. I will treasure the times we shared together and I will truly miss him…

You have lost a great Father and the world has lost a great man. May God rest his soul.

Carl M. Hall

He was one of the country's great military men and his loss will be felt by many. Additionally, he has been a good friend of ours for more years than I like to remember. Gina and I will miss Dean and your mother as well very much also. When I was living in Texas and got married there, we spent part of our honeymoon visiting with them in Monroe, A sad loss to us all, including his many friends in Southern California.

Regina and Joe Bott

He was a great man and great student of the sword. (Maybe more, he was a great Marine.) I remember him well, though I'd lost contact with him recently. I hope somebody will get up a memorial fund in his honor - I'd be happy to contribute. I met him at the Chicago shinsa in about 1980 - he spoke fluent Japanese to me (with a completely straight face) on the elevator, as I clutched my dinky swords - never letting on to the other passenger that he realized I was a rank amateur - my (rote) reply in broken Japanese was pathetic, but he never let on. May he rest in peace!

John Bracher

Col Hartley was an impressive man. I learned a great deal from him and admired him greatly. He deserves celebrations and we are all lucky to have known him!

Peter Bleed

You know I loved and greatly admired your father. I will always treasure the time we spent with him, particularly those wonderful shows down in Texas. He was a terrific inspiration to a great many of us.

Philip Vos Fellman

He was one of the first people I met in the sword world and he always made me feel welcome. His willingness to share his knowledge was legendary among sword collectors. I considered him to be a good friend and I, like all who knew him, will miss him deeply.

Terry McCarthy

He was a serious and dedicated student of the Sword and personally motivated my studies. The Colonel will be missed.

Tim O'Neal

Priscilla and I felt very privileged to know Col. Hartley and Ruth and always enjoyed and looked forward to visiting with them at the Florida Token Kai Sword Shows. Dean will always be remembered and revered for his vast knowledge of the Japanese Art Sword and for the enormous contribution he made to the Japanese Sword Community. He will be greatly missed by me and all of his friends from the Florida Token Kai Sword Society.

Troy N. Baxley

We are greatly saddened by the death of Col Hartley. I had known him since 1969 when he and I went through the swords at the Boston Museum and visited the home on the military installation. He was a full Colonel and I a Tech Sergeant at that time. I have notified the NBTHK and Tanobe San. I will write an official letter for publication into the Token Bijitsu magazine so that all his friends around the world will be notified.

Bob Benson

As mentor and friend, the Colonel made incredible influences on me during my formative years. I credit him for helping me to become the person I am today. I am grateful for the time we spent together. I will never forget him.

Devin K. Branch

I know that "The Col" was very proud of his children: the stories about your relationship with your father showed much love and respect.

Lamar Mullican

It is with sadness and a great surge of memories that I have just learned of your Dad's death from Ken Banks. Ken and I are members of a sword group here in Maryland, the Mid-Atlantic Token Kai.

I first got to know your Dad over 30 years ago when he started attending a gun show in Pikesville, Maryland that was a major gathering spot on the East Coast for collectors. He was an awe inspiring figure to me then with his vast knowledge that he dispensed almost nonchalantly. I can still see him, bending forward slightly as he peered at a sword, flipping up his glasses with an appreciative look on his face. At one of the sword shows on the West Coast, I can see him in my hotel room holding court and regaling all of us who had gathered in the room with his military and sword stories. He was always calm and accessible, readily sharing his knowledge and love of swords.

A chronically ill daughter in our family began to absorb my energies and I drifted away from attending the shows, though I maintained an interest in Nihonto. In those years, I often thought of your father and should have contacted him. After our daughter died, it took many years before my interest in collecting revived. The real impetus to doing so was attending the Florida Token-Kai three years ago. Your Dad came to the show on the second day and seeing him stirred up all those memories of years past. Something was going on out in the corridor so he and I were the only ones in the room and I had a chance to talk to him for some time. He'd just acquired a Nio blade and talked about seeing a Kanemitsu sword he'd heard about thirty years before, but never had the chance to see. It was there at the show and when I asked him for advice to a returning student, he said essentially, "keep your eyes open, things keep coming around".

Dean was moving with difficulty then but his keen interest was in no way diminshed. I always admired him; perhaps it was the aviator in him. My Dad was a Navy flight instructor at Pensacola from 1939-1942 or so (squadron commander on a carrier in the Pacific afterward), and it may be that they knew each other. I think all the Marine aviators went through Pensacola at that time and they were a pretty close fraternity. The two men had much in common and there was always something about your Dad that was very familiar in a way. They were cut from the same cloth so to speak.

Blix Winston

Your father was a friend, sensei and inspiration to me and many others. I will play a tribute to him at the S.F. sword show.

Terry McCarthy, the JSSUS Bagpiper

Before I was old enough to drive, my mother would drop me off at your Dad’s house to talk about swords.   Your father was the most generous teacher I could have had.  He would send home with swords and books to study and then we would discuss them on my next visit.  I can’t imagine anyone else sending a Juyo blade home with a 15 year old.  I don’t think I could.

Jay Stephenson, Hollis & Company

Here is to one of the finest men I have ever known, my friend and mentor retired Marine Corps Aviator, Colonel Dean S. Hartley  Jr., USMC Retired.  Dean was one of the senior collectors in the US, with a history of Nihonto study and collection which spanned well over half a century. Dean was instrumental in forming almost every sword club in the US, and was President Emeritus of the JSS/US up until his death on March 19, 2010. Over the years, the Col. treated me like a son, sharing his incredible knowledge as well as opening his vast collection for my study. Dean and I  became quite close, he once disclosed to me that outside immediate family, I was the only person to see some of his possessions.

Ed Marshall,

Col. Dean S. Hartley, Jr., Sensei 1920-2010: Everything you ever wanted to know ...

The time is February, 1990, the location is Tampa, Florida - on the occasion of the First Annual Japanese Sword Show being sponsored by the Florida Token Kai, a then fledgling Japanese Sword study Society in its first year of existence.

The lecture room is filled to overflowing for this very first educational program presented by Florida Token Kai - the Topic is "Everything you ever wanted to know about collecting Japanese Swords."

The Speaker is Col. Dean S. Hartley, Jr.

I was first introduced to Col. Hartley several months before at a Japanese Sword Show in Chicago and was advised by many of the veteran sword collectors that he was indeed one of the few "Experts" on Japanese Swords in America.

During the course of the Chicago Show, I had the opportunity to spend time with Col. Hartley and discuss my idea for a new Sword Show in Florida - noting, however, that I had many reservations and no experience whatsoever with organizing and running a Sword Show.  Dean offered words of encouragement, recommendation and direction for a Florida Sword Show ... Everything you ever wanted to know ... and even offered to personally present a program! Thus began an Era that was to last for over twenty years.

At the very beginning Dean quickly admonished me that he was not an "Expert" but merely and "Old Collector" - and to be wary of those who self professed to be a sword expert. Little did I know this was but the beginning of my education on Japanese Swords and the beginning of a wonderful personal relationship lasting for over two decades with the man I am honored to call my "Sensei."

For twenty years and 19 Sword Shows, I observed Dean to be far more than just an "Old Collector" - but rather and extremely knowledgeable student of Japanese Swords and Fittings, together with a serious collector's attention to a varied range of other subjects - from Watches to Opals, from Porcelains to Wood Block Prints, and the list goes on and on ...

Time after time, upon being asked a question by a beginning collector, Dean would freely share years of study and experience with this new collector - no matter how basic the question or how simple the answer ... Everything you ever wanted to know ...

Dean's opinion was likewise sought by the veteran collector, who recognized the value of his experienced eyes and depth of his recallable knowledge gleaned by personal examination of literally thousands of swords since the end of World War II ... Everything you ever wanted to know ...

I will treasure those hours spent with my "Sensei," sitting at his Table at the Sword Show, where Dean would show me a Sword and explain those subtle differences that distinguish a "Great Sword" from an "Also Ran." Dean probably answered 500 questions from me over the past twenty years - and like the Master Card commercial says - the Value was "Priceless" ... Everything you ever wanted to know ...

Thank you for sharing your Knowledge, your Talents, your Wisdom, and your Life with us ... May God rest your soul.

Your humble student: Carl M. Hall, Chairman, Florida Token Kai


Funeral Pictures

Veteran's Marker provided by VA




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