Gretchen J. Hartman, 90, health department chief

August 22, 2004

Gretchen Jane Hartman, a dietitian and former division chief for the state health department, died Tuesday at St. Joseph Medical Center of complications from surgery after a fall. She was 90 and had lived for about 15 years at Edenwald in Towson, where she was chairwoman of its food committee.

Miss Hartman, who was known as Jane, was a Pittsburgh-area native who earned a bachelor's degree in nutrition from West Virginia University and a master's degree from Drexel University. After working for several years in Pennsylvania, Miss Hartman moved to Baltimore and worked for several years as Sinai Hospital's director of dietetics. She worked for the next 35 years for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the last 11 years as chief of its division of dietetic services. She retired in 1981.

"She was a forerunner," said nephew Thomas C. Pears IV of Boston. "She really was a pioneer, a woman rising high in state government."

Her memberships and awards were numerous, including more than 60 years as a life member of the American Dietetic Association, which honored her with its Medallion Award. She was active in the Maryland Dietetic Association, where she twice served as president.

Miss Hartman wrote a monthly magazine column for 10 years for Modern Hospitals, and from 1958 to 1961 was a consultant in food service for the Connecticut Hospital Association in the development of small hospitals.

Jane Libby of Annapolis was working as a student dietitian at Yale New Haven Hospital in 1958 when Miss Hartman was designing its food service system. They became friends and later worked together at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, she said.

"She did so many other things: She set up training courses, inspected facilities ... . and she was a very creative person. She always looked to see what the next possibility was in our field," she said.

Miss Hartman was a mentor for many young professionals, especially minority students and dietitians, she said.

A lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church, Miss Hartman was a board member of the Presbyterian Home and a volunteer for many organizations. She enjoyed travel, reading, theater and other arts, and corresponded with many friends.

A memorial service will be at 11:30 a.m. today at Babcock Presbyterian Church, 8240 Loch Raven Blvd., with a reception afterward in the fellowship hall.

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