It seems everyone in Catawba County has a Bob Hart story. He delivered hundreds of babies as a primary care physician at Frye and Catawba hospitals and cared for many patients at Hart Family and Hart Industrial Practices. He toured thousands of local students on field trips through his beloved Hart Square Village. And Bob saved a generation of stories through his work in historic preservation.
At heart, Bob was a teacher. He loved to quiz Hart Square visitors on old-timey objects and how they worked. He was never afraid to turn a one hour tour into a full day of historic learning. Nothing gave Bob greater joy than to share the resourcefulness of the Early American pioneers with others, especially children.
Bob’s love of history was only surpassed by his devotion to his wife of nearly 60 years, Becky Hart. They were married in 1961 after Bob’s graduation from Wofford College and honorable service to his country as a Second Lieutenant Marine fighter pilot. In the first years of their marriage, Becky worked as a music teacher and choir director to put Bob through medical school at MUSC to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor.
Upon graduation, the Lord led them to Hickory to raise their family after a spiritual conversation with the priest at Church of the Ascension, where Bob later served on the vestry. Together they shared a deep relationship with Christ, a passion for rescuing 19th-century history, and a dedication to their local community charities.
Bob’s accomplishments have been featured in numerous publications including Foxfire, Homestead, Our State, Early American Life, and countless television programs.
He has also been honored with several awards for his work in preservation, public service and wildlife conservation. In 1997, he was a recipient of the Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit from Preservation North Carolina. And most recently, he and Becky each received the North Carolina Long Leaf Pine award, considered the most prestigious public service award in the state.
Bob was a lover of wildlife and environmental preservation. His efforts were recognized with the N.C. Governor’s Award for Wildlife Conservation, the highest award bestowed by the state and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. He will be dearly missed by the geese, deer, and cats that roam Hart Square Village.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert William Hart Jr. and Adeline Hay Brunson Hart, and by his wife’s parents, Sidney Otis Holstein Jr. and Valera Bowers Holstein. Dr. Robert William Hart, III. is survived by his wife, Rebecca Holstein Hart, their two sons, Dr. Robert Eric Hart and Sidney Keith Hart, along with their wives, Margaret Hart and Lisa Hart, and their grandchildren, Rebecca Anne Hart, Sarah Hart, Abigail Hart, Dorothy Hart, Luke Hart, Robert Hart Jr., and Carson Hart.
Donations can be made online here in his honor, or by mail to:
Hart Square Foundation, Inc.
5055 Hope Road
Vale, NC 28168