Official Obituary of

John Henry Hartford

April 24, 1966 ~ February 8, 2024 (age 57) 57 Years Old
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John Hartford Obituary

John Henry Hartford, Jr.

April 24, 1966-February 8, 2024

As I start writing this, I cannot be more at peace and wanted to start this before John passes onto the other side.  He is finally letting himself go, tonight before dinner he slipped into a peaceful coma.  Still on this side, and as I was making dinner with my husband, I got this overwhelming sense of calm and thoughts flew into my mind.  I knew tonight was the night to write this.  You see, I was asked weeks ago to write my brother’s obituary, although he isn’t having a traditional funeral, we wanted to put something out into the world that brought to life my older brother, John Henry Hartford, Jr.  I couldn’t write this or even come up with words as it wasn’t real, it wasn’t really happening.  But most have known has been battling stage four esophageal cancer.  We as a family knew what it meant, less than ten percent chance of survival but my mind wouldn’t let me think that way until tonight.  I wanted to write this or at least start it while knowing he is still with us physically, but we all know where he is heading.

John was the first of the Hartford babies, born to John H Hartford, Sr and Phyllis Hartford.  He made my parents actual parents.  Funny fact, he was born exactly 2 years to the date my parents married on April 24, 1966.  How’s that for an anniversary gift!  Our dad who has been gone for nearly 21 years will be there to greet him.  Our mom, as usual is the Steel Magnolia of the family and is faced with putting her baby to rest well before her time.  She is truly the glue to this family.  She will never know how much we see her grit.  Ironically both my brother and my dad died a 57, both taken too soon from cancer.  We all know what to say to cancer!!!  John as most of his friends can attest to was adventurous even troublesome during his childhood, I knew that going into middle school in West Bridgewater and one of my brother’s former teachers is like “oh God, I hope your not like your brother!”   I laughed and said he is my brother, and you will see.  I knew I wasn’t like him in that sense.  There are so many stories of him during his time at West Bridgewater High School and many Principals and Mr Benson could attest to that. 

As John got older, he started dating, several females at once if I recall.  My dad said to John, “do not make me a grandfather before I am 40!”  Well, as luck has it, and true to form, John and his then wife, Patricia Hartford announced they were expecting!  My dad and mom became grandparents as Steven John was born in 1986—and they were both 40!  I was excited too, it made me an uncle for the first time.  Soon to be Steven’s godfather.  So many firsts I was gifted with because of my brother.  John was the proud father of two more children, Ashley Marie and John Henry (Johnny). 

John’s life wasn’t easy for him, self-admittingly, but he never blamed that as for his path.  He knew what he was doing, what he was putting into his body and lived life on his terms.  He fought those demons and did not always win, but he owned them and talked about them.  Drugs and alcohol addiction are a real thing, but I do not want to harp on this part as this is not what defines him.

What defines him is his tenacity to try to be better, for himself, for his family and just to be a good human. It was a struggle but there are so many times when he would be down, he would just pick himself back up.  He did not have a lot if any material possessions, but what he did have was his presence.  He was the first to help and pitch in.  He would give you all of his time and participation as that was his gift to you.  He was always helping at any family party and whenever at a barbeque he would be the grill master!  Just ask my sister Kelly.  He loved to cook.  Food was his way of showing his love for those he cooked for and we love that about him. 

Watching him struggle with the passing is his first baby, Steven, was inspiring.  Yes, he had his moments, railed off the walls, but he found that inner peace with it years before the diagnosis.   I think my mom is a great example of that for him.  Since my dad passed, my mom would tell us go ahead, have our pity party, cry and move on as it is human.  Feel those feelings and you will move through them.  She is so right, and I know pity parties are in my future.   Side note, ask her about Karma.  She’s full of “momisms” that are so rooted in truth.  John’s example during these past few months is a textbook way to handle your own reality that you are going to die, and he did it his way.  He made amends, where needed, found family as his source of light and love and was able to bear witness to his own “final goodbye” in October.  He was so happy that he saw all his old friends and extended family.  It meant the world to him.  He was in so much pain, but the outpouring of love was worth every bit of it.  We thought that party was going to put him under.  He was like, no way, not today!  It invigorated him to do more things he had never done.  He rode a horse for the first time!  He visited LaSalette Shrine during the holidays as we did as kids with our family.  He hugged his children, nieces, and nephews; he kissed his mother and held her tight as only a mother and her first born could.  There is a bond for sure. 

John was so amazing that I know this isn’t giving him justice, but it is what my fingers and thoughts are saying to put down. John loved being a big brother to his siblings: Keri Ann, Kelly Ann and Traci and oh yeah, me!  But I am not an Ann…Scott Michael.  He would tell us how much he loved his little brother or little sister more and more as time passed.   The day I left Massachusetts after his Living Wake, he told me things that made me totally lose it.  He was proud of me, he whispered in my ear.  He didn’t know It then, but my dad used to do the same thing to me.  I knew then my dad was there watching and waiting for him to join him and the many other family members that have passed on. 

John is survived by his daughter Ashley, son John, Grandfather to Damien and Carter.  Uncle to countless nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.  His Irish-twin sister, Keri and her wife, Cheryl.  Who selflessly took john into their home to care for him in his final months, arranged so many things from family gatherings to that horseback adventure.  His sister, Kelly, and her husband David.  Kelly was John’s personal cook making him his favorites—earning him the nickname in his final days of the Gremlin!  Me and my husband Jose.  His sister, Traci and ex-husband Tony.  John, being John during his final months, was so worried for Traci and for her son Anthony (a whole other docu-series) that it seemed he wasn’t concerned about his medical issues and wasn’t trying to overshadow his own for them.  It was truly John at his best.  He thought of others, way more than himself at times.  John’s mother, Phyllis and predeceased father, John Sr.  His extended family, the Dunne’s, Eaton’s, Welby’s, Puppo’s, came and showed up when he wanted it the most.  And to those that are the chosen family, Trisha Boyle, and Mike Denardo especially for his lifelong dedication and friendship to my brother and to our family.  My brother said, he was my brother from another mother, and it is true.  And sometimes family is more than family when they become more like a sister who he cared for immensely in Eileen Dunne. 

I am proud of you, my older brother!  You handled this exit with the upmost grace and dignity of any human being.  I will see you on the other side, hopefully not too soon.  Send our love to those who have gone before us.   My bother passed way after a long courageous battle with cancer last evening within the hour of me writing this. 

Visiting hours will be held on Friday February 16th from 4-7pm at Leighton-MacKinnon Funeral Home, 4 West Washington St (corner of rte 58) Hanson relatives and friends are invited to attend.  Burial will be at a later date. 


Your baby brother, Scott

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February 16, 2024

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Leighton-MacKinnon Funeral Home / South Shore Cremation Services
4 West Washington Street
Hanson, MA 02341


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