The Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center held a ceremony on Thursday, October 27 in memory of former executive director Gerald Hart, who passed away suddenly at age 36. Margaret Tietz staff members, local officials and community members assembled to pay tribute to him.
“The staff loved him and could not believe what a loss this was at such a young age,” said Margaret Tietz Director of Public Affairs Linda Spiegel.
A decorated sergeant of the United States Marine Corps, Hart began working for the Margaret Tietz Center as an intern at age 25. At age 31, he became the center’s administrative director, the youngest one in the country.
Under Hart’s supervision, the entire building was renovated and maintained a five-star rating. He passed away before its completion.
Hart’s memorial service was standing-room-only, packed wall to wall with many of the lives he touched.
“He left a lot of people feeling he was an amazing guy at this young age. You don’t meet people like him every day,” said Spiegel.
Officials from Margaret Tietz announced they would be renaming the property’s garden “Hart to Heart” in his honor. They also announced that a scholarship fund has been established in Hart’s name, benefitting the special education students from the Queens Transitional Center, a program that Hart was passionate about. The program helps provide volunteer opportunities at the Margaret Tietz Center and can lead to possible employment.
While Hart worked with the program, five students acquired jobs.
The ceremony concluded with the dedication of a tree in Hart’s honor, a red bud that now stands in the middle of the “Hart to Heart” Garden.
BY ALEXA ALTMAN