Other notable deaths

Other notable deaths

April 20, 2008

Robert T. Hartmann, 91

Presidential speechwriter

Robert T. Hartmann, who wrote the 1974 address in which Gerald R. Ford, assuming the presidency after the resignation of Richard M. Nixon, told the nation, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over," died April 11 in Washington. The cause was cardiac arrest, said his son, Robert.

The memorable phrase coined by Hartmann, counselor to the president, almost failed to survive.

In an ABC News program in 1985 that examined major events of the previous three decades, Mr. Ford spoke of the turmoil of the Watergate scandal. He recalled that on Aug. 9, 1974, he bade farewell just before Mr. Nixon boarded a helicopter on the White House grounds. Minutes later, Mr. Ford was looking at the proposed text of the nationally televised speech he was to give after taking the oath of office at noon. One line troubled him, the one about the "national nightmare."

Mr. Hartmann, in his 1980 book, Palace Politics, recalled that he had immediately threatened to resign if the phrase was excised.

Robert Trowbridge Hartmann was born in Rapid City, S.D., on April 8, 1917. His father was a chemical engineer and a patent lawyer.

Besides his son, of Bethesda, he is survived by his wife of 65 years, the former Roberta Sankey; a daughter, Roberta Brake of Louisville, Ky.; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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