Jan. 30, 1942 – Nov. 8, 2018
Keizer lost a lion of an advocate last week with the passing of Michael James Hart, Jr.
Hart died Thursday, Nov. 8, at the age of 76. On Friday, Nov. 16, a memorial Recitation of the Rosary will begin at 10 a.m. at St. Edward Church in Keizer followed by funeral mass at 10:30 a.m. Hart will be interred at Willamette National Cemetery.
Hart and his wife, Betty, moved to the area that would become Keizer in 1976. During the next four decades, Hart would be known as a Keizer city councilor, an honored member of the Rotary Club of Keizer, board member of the Boys & Girls Club and the Center for Hope and Safety (formerly The Women’s Crisis Center), a past president of the Salem Sports and Breakfast Club, and an active presence in the Keizer and Salem chambers of commerce. Most recently, Hart was a member of the Keizer Fire Board for more than 11 years, he was succeeded in the role by Betty.
Those who knew him, even tangentially, were never surprised to see Hart decked out in gear from his favorite college football team, the University of Oregon Ducks. He held season tickets for many years and continued attending games until his death. He was also an “owner” in a local Fantasy Basketball League that provided many years of fellowship with his Jaycees, Junior Chamber of Commerce, buddies.
Hart was born to Michael J. Hart and Rosalyn Perkins Hart on Jan. 30, 1942 in Tacoma, Wash. His father was headed for a deployment in the South Pacific with the U.S. Army at the time. Hart’s mother died suddenly of polio when he was 2 years old, and he spent the remainder of his father’s deployment with his paternal grandparents. When his father returned from the war in June 1946, he married Rita Smith and the family grew to include three more boys – Larry, Jim and David – and a sister, Linda.
The family moved to the Portland area when Hart was 10 and deployed to Okinawa together for a year before returning to Tacoma.
Hart graduated from Bellarmine Catholic High School, in Tacoma, in 1960, and enlisted in the Army when he turned 18. He attended boot camp at Ft. Ord in California immediately after graduating. While in the service, Mike worked in supply at Scofield Barracks on Oahu and reached the rank of sergeant. He considered making the Army his career but, after three years, he was ready for civilian life.
When he left the Army, Hart moved to Portland where his family had relocated. He worked for a finance company that took him to St. Helens and later to Clatskanie. He left Clatskanie for Salem in early 1970 to work for the Oregon Jaycees as their executive director. He met and married Betty the same year.
In 1976, the Harts bought a home in Keizer. When Keizer became an incorporated city, Hart ran for the original city council. He came in seventh and was appointed to the city council a few months later when it was expanded from five to seven members. He served on the council for ten years. In the late 1990s, Hart became involved with the Keizer Fire District, serving first on a long-range planning committee for the district then running for its board of directors. He remained a longtime advocate for the fire district and its employees. After leaving the Oregon Jaycees, Mike worked in sales, mostly at various radio stations, ending his career at KBZY in 2004.
In addition to his other roles within the area’s community, Hart served as executive director for the Salem Softball Association in the early 1980s, volunteered for The United Way, as an umpire for Little League and was an active supporter of Girl Scouts of America.
Among the most notable honors Hart received for his work were: recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow for his efforts with Keizer’s Rotarians; being named Junior First Citizen by the Salem Jaycees and one of five Outstanding Young Men of Oregon; recognition by the U.S. Jaycees with the Seiji Horiuchi Memorial Award, given to outstanding state chairman; designation as Junior Chamber International Senate #23396 for his dedication and contributions to the community and the Jaycee organization.
In the spring of 2006, Hart became ill and needed more help than Betty could provide at home. He moved into a foster care home in Keizer operated by Sweet Bye N Bye. He lived there until April 2014 when he moved into residential care facility operated by the same company. Family members thanked Sweet Bye N Bye for the love and care they provided to Hart for so many years.
His parents and his sister, Linda, preceded Hart in death. He is survived by his wife, Betty, his brothers Larry of Woodburn, Jim (Joyce) of Eugene, Dave of Wilsonville, his aunt, Jean Volz, of Portland,