UNH honors Henry E. “Hank” Bartels’ memory

Elissa Sanci

25 years ago, Hank and his wife Nancy Bartels began the Bartels Fellowship Program which has brought esteemed lecturers to the University of New Haven through the Bartels Lecture Series. On April 23, three months after Bartels’ death, UNH honored his memory with a memorial and celebration service in Bucknall Theater, followed by a lecture from Dr. Henry C. Lee, chaired professor of Forensic Science and often considered the foremost and most famous forensic scientists in the world. 

Bucknall Theater was near capacity the morning of Thursday, April 23 as students, faculty, staff, alumni and esteemed guests came together to honor the late Henry E. “Hank” Bartels. Bartels, a generous patron of the University of New Haven, passed at the age of 92 on Jan. 19.

Hank Bartels and Henry C. Lee  (University of New Haven photo)
Hank Bartels and Henry C. Lee
(University of New Haven photo)

“Today, we remember the man who perfected the art of living,” Martin J. O’Connor, campus minister and associate professor, said of Bartels as he opened the ceremony. O’Connor spoke of the deep affection and profound gratitude that he, along with the rest of the UNH campus community, has for Bartels.

“The measure of a life well lived is how well we give that life to others,” O’Connor said, and Bartels did just that. For over four decades, Bartels gave to the university in numerous different ways, including scholarships, community service fellowship opportunities, lecture series and student centers on campus, all with the intent to encourage and facilitate opportunities for furthering education.

President Steven Kaplan remembers Bartels as a great friend to both himself and the university. “He did something in his life that we all inspire to do: to make a difference,” he said. He noted that Bartels was an extremely modest man; Bartels drove a 15-year-old station wagon. When Kaplan questioned this, Bartels told him, “I could drive a different color Rolls-Royce every day of the week but that doesn’t interest me; what interests me is helping others.”

Speakers included O’Connor, campus minister; President Kaplan, president of UNH; Asia Gillespie, senior psychology major and 2014 President’s Public Servant Fellow; Richard Rotella, Undergraduate Student Government Association president; and Philip H. Bartels, son of Hank Bartels and chair on the UNH Board of Governors.

Rotella awarded the Bartels family, including Hank’s wife, sons and granddaughter, with a Proclamation of Appreciation which thanked the family for everything they do for the university and contribute to UNH. “Because of Mr. Bartels, many people are able to call UNH home,” Rotella said.

To further honor Bartels and his legacy left at UNH, Dr. Henry C. Lee, world-renowned forensic scientist as well as chaired professor of Forensic Science at the university, gave a lecture as the Spring 2015 Bartels Fellow.

Much like Bartels, Lee also worked his way to success; Lee, along with his 12 siblings, was raised in a single-parent household in China after his father passed when Lee was only five years old. Lee and his wife moved to America in 1965, speaking no English and with only $50. Now, 50 years later, “We still don’t speak English, but we sure do have a lot of money!” Lee said as the crowd laughed at his humor and extreme modesty.

Lee spoke about the impact Bartels had on his life; throughout his 40 years with UNH, Lee spent a lot of time with Bartels and learned that to be successful, you have to have knowledge, leadership abilities, and a vision. Most importantly, Bartels taught Lee that to succeed, you must work hard.

“It is not important who you are,” Lee said. “It is important who you are with.”

Lee also told his life story, highlighting the journey he took to become as successful as he is and detailing some of the many cases he’s worked on through the years. After the lecture, Lee dined with University student leaders and Honors Program members, where he was able to answer questions in a more intimate setting.