Robert L. Harman, 83, of Lahmansville died Jan. 1, 2024, at the Grant Rehabilitation and Care Center in Petersburg.
He was born Jan. 28, 1940, in Cumberland, Maryland, and was the son of the late Ralph E. and Helen Louise Boor Harman.
Mr. Harman graduated from Petersburg High School in 1958, and was a graduate of Potomac State College where he played basketball, Fairmont State College, and George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he received a master of business administration in health care administration.
After a residency at Prince George’s General Hospital in Cheverly, Maryland, he was employed as administrator/chief executive officer at Grant Memorial Hospital in Petersburg from Jan. 1, 1965, to Dec. 31, 2010. His 46-year career was recognized by the American College of Healthcare Executives as “the longest tenured hospital CEO on record in the United States.” He was presented the American flag which was flown over the United States Capitol in his honor, and Gov. Bob Wise presented the Distinguished West Virginian Award to him.
He was a member of the West Virginia Hospital Association board of trustees and served as chairman of the board in 1978-80 and 1997-98. He was instrumental in the formation of the Committee on Small and Rural Hospitals within the association and served as chairman from 1983-89. He received the WVHA Excellence in Leadership Award in 1994 and 2004.
In 1974, he served as delegate to the American Hospital Association and served on the Regional Advisory Board for several terms. He also served as a member of AHA’s Advisory Panel on Small and Rural Hospitals, and member and chairman of the Governing Council of the Section on Small and Rural Hospitals. He was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health. He was awarded the 2006 AHA Board of Trustees Award, their 2008 Senior Level Healthcare Executive Regent’s Award, and was recognized in 2010 for “A Career of Outstanding Leadership.” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin named him a Distinguished West Virginian in 2010. He was a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives.
In 2014, he was interviewed by the American Hospital Association. The resulting 36-page document was published by the Center for Hospital and Healthcare Administration History and Health Research & Educational Trust. It is entitled “ROBERT L. HARMAN In First Person: An Oral History.” He was recognized as a Director Emeritus of the WV Center for Rural Health Development after serving on their board for 11 years. In 2023, he was honored to be a part of both the flag raising and ribbon-cutting ceremonies when Grant Memorial Hospital became a full member of the West Virginia University Health System.
Mr. Harman was an active member of the Petersburg Presbyterian Church where he was an elder, trustee, and treasurer and a member of the choir since he was a teenager. Other memberships included the board of governors for Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College, board of trustees at E. A. Hawse Health, Grant County Ambulance Authority, Grant County Planning Commission, Grant Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Petersburg Lodge #145 A.F. and A.M. (Past Master), Petersburg Chapter #146 Order of the Eastern Star (Past Patron, Grant County Arts Council, Patterson Creek Ruritan Club, Grant County Historical Society, and associate member of the West Virginia Association of Retired School Employees and the Grant County Association of Retired School Employees.
He valued family immensely and cherished the activities and accomplishments of his grandchildren. His great-grandchildren always brought a smile when they greeted him as “Bobby.” He enjoyed farming, watching television, and reading historical fiction. Throughout his life he was an advocate for health care, education, and community improvement.
His wife of 61 years, Jo Ann Snyder Harman, survives.
Also surviving are his two sons, Kenton Snyder Harman and daughter-in-law, Lisa, and Brenton Robert Harman and daughter-in-law, Becky, both of Lahmansville; five grandchildren, Johanna Rohrbaugh and grandson-in-law Jami, Mikala Harman and companion Eric Wilt, Lauren Harman, and Allison Harman, all of Lahmansville, and Evan Harman of Centreville, Virginia; three great-granddaughters, Addaleigh and Evaleigh Rohrbaugh and Emilia Wilt; two step-granddaughters; seven step-great-grandchildren; a brother, John Harman, and sister-in-law, Corena of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; sisters, Sue Carole Harman Wieneke of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Ann Louise Harman Longbon, and brother-in-law, Gavin, of Petersburg; and several nieces and nephews and their families.
He was also preceded in death by a sister, Nancy Lee Harman; and a brother, Ralph E. Harman II.
The memorial service will be livestreamed. The link is https://facebook.com/events/s/celebration-of-life-for-robert/3699724606915389.
A funeral service was held Saturday at the Petersburg Presbyterian Church with Rev. Kevin Channell and Rev. Rich Cardot officiating. Burial was at the Lahmansville Cemetery with the Petersburg Lodge #145 A.F. and A.M. conducting graveside services.
The family suggests memorial donations be made to the Petersburg Presbyterian Church, 20 North Main Street, Petersburg, WV 26847 or the Robert L. Harman Scholarship, Grant Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, PO Box 668, Petersburg, WV 26847.
Online condolences www.schaefferfuneralhome.com.