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Smith "Wally" Hartley '89 September 28, 2021 2:15 PM updated: October 8, 2021 4:44 PM

Smith W. Hartley
October 16, 1966 -  September 16, 2021

Smith Walter "Wally" Hartley died September 16, 2021 in Seattle, Washington after a courageous battle with cancer.

In the Sep/Oct 2019 issue of Healthcare Journal of New Orleans, Smith W. Hartley shared with readers he had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, stating that “finding out you have brain cancer is an interesting perspective.” 

Wally was born October 16, 1966 in Anacortes, Wa to Smith Wooters Hartley, Jr. and Ernestine (Dailly) Hartley. He grew up in Baton Rouge, La and was the oldest of 7 children.

Wally was a graduate of Broadmoor High School’s class of ’85 in Baton Rouge, La., where he excelled in sports. He was on the 4A Louisiana State Basketball team and earned a football scholarship to Texas A&M, where he played on several Southwest Conference Champion teams as a tight end. He graduated from Texas A&M with a Bachelor's degree Health and was a member of the Class of 1990. He graduated from the University of Houston, Clear Lake with an MHA/MBA.  

He married Dianne Marie Normand Hartley in 1989. They shared a love story and mutual respect as both advanced in their individual careers, hers in media, his in healthcare. In New York, Dianne worked for the Discovery Channel. They ultimately combed efforts to launch US Healthcare Journals.

They lived in New York City during the 911 attacks, and were separated for days as the bridges and tunnels were locked down, while he was at Rikers Island. He was then asked to become part of NYC’s Emergency Task Force, an underground master control bunker set-up for emergencies.

Prior to launching the Journals, Hartley’s career ranged from running group practices in Houston to overseeing healthcare of 2,000+ inmates at New York City’s Rikers Island, which he found fascinating. After a back injury, Hartley found yoga and became a certified vinyasa yoga instructor, teaching a peaceful practice. At a height of 6’6”, he “towered” over the class. 

Hartley’s interest in health, healthcare, philosophy and well-being culminated in launching US Healthcare Journals in 2007. The Journals provide insight to the healthcare industry in local markets and include Healthcare Journal of Baton Rouge, Healthcare Journal of New Orleans and Healthcare Journal of Arkansas.

Hartley’s joie de vivre was contagious, and some of his last words were, “I hope everyone just has a good time. I never understood why everyone was so uptight. I enjoyed life.” He was diagnosed in 2019 with glioblastoma while living on Kaua’i and decided then to spend the remainder of his time in Seattle, which was a city on his bucket list.

Hartley collected close friends from each phase of his life. The last two years of his life were enveloped in love as friends and many family members came to Seattle to pay respects, share a laugh, and enjoy the moment.

Wally is preceded in death by his father, Smith Wooters Hartley, Jr.

He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Dianne Hartley '89; his mother, Ernestine (Dailly) Hartley; his sisters, Kelley (Jim) Odom of Zachary, La; Karen (Jason) Benater of Alpharetta, Ga; Katie (Jeff) Patterson of The Woodlands, Tx; Kim (John) Dupont of St. Francisville, La; Kari (Christian) Ebner of St. Francisville, La. Brother, Bobby Hartley of Lake Tahoe, Ca.

He is also survived by many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Hartley will have a full-body burial at sea in the San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington, on Sept. 22, close to where he was born. Two boats filled with loved ones will accompany the body.

He will be missed dearly, but as he used to say, "Life is funny this way."

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