If Hartzell has been a role model to others, it's because he had his own role model growing up.
Though he excelled in science when he was in high school, it was only when he had a science teacher who boosted his confidence that he decided he wanted to go to Princeton University. There he majored in chemistry and graduated in 1953.
He attended medical school at Harvard University, where he met some of his closest lifelong friends. He graduated in1957.
"It was one of the high points in my life," he said, a smile on his face.
Wanting to give back so that he could influence some of the children he came in contact with, he decided to become involved with organizations that focused on the advancement of youth.
One such group was the 40-year-old Boy Scout Medical Explorer Post program at the Palo Alto Clinic.
It has "probably touched the lives of about 100 people who are now practicing medicine," Hartzell said. "We'll have doctors and other professionals talk about what their thoughts were when they were in high school and the decisions they made when they were young so that the kids can see the steps to take."
By exposing the youth to a variety of careers — whether those be professional or nonprofessional — kids will realize they can do whatever they enjoy as a career, he said.
Not every child is meant to go to college, but children should still be encouraged to find a career they love, he added.
The Medical Explorer Post program was founded by Dr. Joe Davis and Dr. Esther Clark — two of Hartzell's mentors. Hartzell recalled Davis as energetic and devoted to his students and that Clark demonstrated the importance of being involved in the community by working with programs, like the Medical Explorer Post.
The idea of not leaving any child behind is one that Hartzell agrees with, and he said he tries to help all children, regardless of their background.
"Our (Boy Scout) program is about two-thirds girls and is very diverse," Hartzell said. "All of these kids are ambitious, really goal-oriented and really engaged. It's a lot of fun for me because it keeps me in touch with the younger high-school students and new medicine."
Hartzell is also a docent for the Filoli Nature Education program, through which kids learn about ecology, geology and nature during a two-hour hike.
An organization that Hartzell holds particularly close to his heart is C.A.R. (Community Association of Rehabilitation) because he likes to help children who have disabilities and their families.
Because Hartzell's late son had special needs, his involvement had a heart-felt focus. Families were able to talk to him about some of their problems, knowing he understood.
"There is nothing like having a devastating experience to make you aware of a part of life that you haven't appreciated before," Hartzell said. "It redirects your energy and focuses your interests."
He served as board president of C.A.R. from 2002 to 2003.
"We had to deal with a lot of tough issues," Hartzell said. "I found it exciting, and we came up with some pretty good solutions for some of the problems."
Hartzell learned his fundraising skills from the late Hans Wolf, who was the president of the Children's Health Council.
"He was one of my mentors, and from him I learned the importance of telling people about programs and not to feel shy about it," he said. "I'd make the commitment and follow through."
Although helping children has been a passion for the white-haired Hartzell, he also has other passions, such as music, art and traveling with his wife, Susan. They travel at least twice a year to far-flung destinations, such as Africa, Asia, India and Europe.
Hartzell said he wants to continue to help children through the organizations he is involved with so that they can discover the path in life that is right for them and help them grow as individuals.
"It makes me sad when I see the political struggle with getting adequate funding to deal with problems in schools," he said, his eyebrows furrowed. "It is misplaced frugalness, and I believe very strongly that we should support programs and services for the kids because they are our future."
This story contains 800 words.
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