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Robert Carmon Hart

• Aug 3, 2019 at 5:53 PM

Robert Carmon Hart died peacefully at his home on August 1st surrounded by family.

He was 92 years old. A native of Piney Flats, he was the son of the late Samuel Robert and Virginia Elizabeth Hart (née Snodgrass). He was married to Hazel Campbell for 51 years. They had five children: John, Jan, James, Joel, and Julie.

Bob, as many called him, grew up on his family’s farm in Piney Flats, where at a young age he developed a determined work ethic he carried with him throughout his life.

He graduated from Mary Hughes High School in 1944 as valedictorian of his class of nine. The same year he enrolled in the V-12 Navy College Training Program at Milligan College. In 1945, the Navy transferred him to the University of Louisville where he graduated, at the age of 20, with a degree in mechanical engineering. After college he worked at North American Rayon Corp where he met his bride Hazel, a secretary at the company. He also pursued graduate studies at the University of Tennessee’s School of Engineering in Knoxville.

In 1950, Bob took a job at Tennessee Eastman Company as an assistant mechanical engineer and gained experience in equipment design, facilities design and operation, manufacturing, and administration management. In 1979, he became the sixth president of the Tennessee Eastman Company. Five years later, he was given additional responsibilities as president of Holston Defense Corporation. In 1990, Bob was named vice president of administration for Eastman Kodak Company.

His distinguished career brought with it many honors, including the Nathan Dougherty Award from the University of Tennessee for significant contributions to the engineering profession (1990), Distinguished Alumnus from the University of Louisville (1983), and an honorary doctorate of engineering sciences from Milligan College (1993).

Bob was a devoted philanthropist and civil servant, volunteering his time to numerous boards and organizations over the years, including King College in Bristol, Northeast State Community College Foundation, East Tennessee State Foundation, and the Sequoyah Council for the Boy Scouts of America Executive Board. For his service to the latter, Bob received the Silver Antelope Award.

Bob and Hazel’s love of the outdoors led them to build a cabin on Boone Lake in 1964. This tiny home became the heart of the Hart family. Here, Bob taught countless children—across three generations—to fish, canoe, and water ski; took them on adventurous hikes and overnight camping trips; and impressed every last youngster with his realistic bird calls.

Above all, Bob was a devoted Christian who placed his faith first in all he did and led a life of integrity, generosity, compassion, and humbleness. He was a member of Bethel Presbyterian Church in Kingsport where he taught the same Sunday school class for nearly 50 years. Most recently, Bob was a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Johnson City.

His family will miss the sharp intellect, quick wit, and generous spirit of the man who served as their moral compass, voice of reason, and encourager for endeavors great and small.

Bob is preceded in death by his parents, his wife Hazel, his second wife Nancy, his sister Jeannia Hart Moore, his sister-in-law Ruth Sparks, and brothers-in-law Tom Moore and Ralph Sparks.

He is survived by his sister Ruth Hart; brother Paul Hart; sisters-in-law Karen Hart and Doris Campbell; brother-in-law Joe Campbell; children and their spouses, John (Patsy), Jan (Tony), James (Shari), Joel (Leslie), and Julie Taylor (Michael); grandchildren Kim Neese, Jessica Frazer, Caroline McKenzie, Taylor Hart, Kathleen Collins, Sam Collins, Emily Powers, Robert Hart, Jordan Taylor, Carter Taylor, Will Hart, and Spencer Hart; great-grandchildren Riley Neese, Reagan Neese, William McKenzie, Virginia McKenzie, Roderick McKenzie, and Robert Carmon Hart McKenzie; as well as many nieces and nephews whom he treasured.

Visitation will be at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Johnson City Monday August 5, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family invites donations to Milligan College of Engineering, Robert C. Hart Engineering Scholarship or King College.

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