BAYSHORE BEAUTIFUL — He was 50 years old before he graduated from college. He was nearing traditional retirement age when he earned his doctorate.
Still, Harold Hartstein managed to fit a successful career as a college teacher into a distinguished life.
Mr. Hartstein taught psychology at the Dale Mabry campus of Hillsborough Community College from 1973 until he retired in 1991.
He passed away from congestive heart failure June 15 at age 87.
"He loved to teach," said his daughter Margaret. "He just loved to share information, whether it was in the classroom or even here at Canterbury Tower, where he lived."
He was a natural teacher, his daughter said. When the minister at the family's small church took vacations, he would ask Mr. Hartstein to fill in. Mr. Hartstein was so at ease lecturing about the Bible that people in the congregation assumed he was ordained.
But teaching, as well as his own education, had been delayed. Mr. Hartstein had enlisted in the military as a young man and was a decorated combat veteran of three wars. It was only after he retired from the military that he went to college.
When he was a young soldier stationed in Washington, D.C., he took a week's vacation in Cape Cod. A young woman named Marion happened to arrive there the same day.
"It's a really romantic story," his daughter said. "They met that first day and spent the whole week together, and then he went back to Washington. They kept in touch through letters and phone calls. The next time he saw her, he asked her to marry him. They met July 19 and married the following April."
Harold and Marion Hartstein had been married for 55 years when he passed away.
The Hartsteins and their two daughters lived a peripatetic military life in bases around the country. For a while, they lived on the same base as Elvis Presley.
"My dad used to see him driving around in his pink Cadillac," Margaret Hartstein said.
Mr. Hartstein saw combat in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He earned the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Army Commendation medal before retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
"He was very proud of his military service," his daughter said. But "he never bragged."
The family moved to Clearwater in 1970, when he retired from the military. His wife and daughters stayed there while he attended the University of Nebraska.
"He came home like a regular student, summers and Christmas," Margaret Hartstein said.
He had earned some college credits in the Army, so he was able to get his degree in a year and half. He joined his family in Florida and started teaching at HCC while he worked on his master's degree in education at the University of South Florida. He got his master's in 1972, and his doctorate in education from Nova University in 1978.
He retired from HCC in 1991, and later moved to Tampa with his wife. They spent much of the past 17 years traveling the world, visiting every continent including Antarctica and making several trips to Hawaii, their favorite place on earth.
"When he retired we bought him a map of the world and put pins in all the places he had been," his daughter said. "We had to buy more pins because he kept going more places."
Besides his daughter Margaret, Mr. Hartstein is survived by his wife, Marion, and daughter Marion Korzec.
Marty Clear writes life stories about Tampa residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at email@example.com.