Clinton Hartmann

A great man and a great life

Clinton Sylvester Hartmann

December 31, 1944 – February 4, 2013

Clinton Sylvester Hartmann, beloved Father, Husband, Uncle, Brother and “Opa”, passed away on February 4th, 2013 at his home in Dallas, Texas.  Clinton was 68 years old and died of complications related to bone cancer.  He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Martha Bonner, his ex-wife, Linda “Spooky” Hartmann, his son, Ben Hartmann, and his daughter and her family, Nicole and Greg Andrews with granddaughters, Raquel and Danielle Andrews.

Clinton was an extremely bright, inquisitive and compassionate person, and had an opportunity to live a rich and varied life.  He was born in the Texas Hill Country in the beautiful German town of Fredericksburg, on New Year’s Eve, 1944.  He was the 5th of 8 children of Gretchen and Lawrence Hartmann and grew up on the family ranch where he spoke German before he spoke English.

On the ranch Clinton learned how to ‘figure things out’.  Whether it was raising cattle, farming the land, or operating and maintaining the farm equipment, Clinton was expected to get it done.  Whether this contributed to his lifetime belief that problems are fun to solve, or whether it was part of his DNA, we may never know.  But regardless, he was constantly exploring new paths and working on creative ways to do things better.

The Hartmann Ranch was also an ideal location to spark and foster his interest in all things mechanical and electrical, and he and his brother Paul built several projects for the betterment of the ranch as well as for fun and excitement.  His childhood was filled with adventures, hard work, music and a household full of family and laughter.

Clinton excelled in school and enjoyed many activities in High School including the German Club, the Math club (where he won several contests) and the Band for whom he was the Drum Major for 2 years.  He spent one summer between his junior and senior year at the University of Oklahoma on a National Science Foundation scholarship and graduated with honors as the Salutatorian of his 1963 Senior Class.  He met his high school sweetheart at age 16, Lila “Spooky” Stearns, in the summer of 1961 at Band Camp and they were married on May 30th, 1964 at the First Baptist Church in Fredericksburg.

Clinton attended the University of Texas at Austin where he pursued his interest in Electrical Engineering and once again excelled.  In college, he carried forward his general philosophy of not necessarily accepting the ’norm’ and it was not unusual for him to correct professors during their lectures, or assist graduate students with figuring out why their experiments did not quite work right.  He graduated in four years with honors, and after applying to graduate school was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

MIT exposed Clinton to a wide world of cultures and opportunities.  Clinton made many new friends from around the world and perhaps this cultivated his eternal love of travel.  Throughout his life, Clinton travelled the world and made lifelong friends in many locations and with many cultures.  Clinton excelled in his education at MIT.  After completing his thesis and course work for his PhD, he accepted an offer with Texas Instruments in their R&D group.

The entire family with their new daughter, Nicole, and a soon-to-be-born son, Ben, travelled cross-country back to Texas and settled in Dallas in the summer of 1969.   At TI, Clinton met some of his most important mentors and colleagues of his lifetime.  During his 10 year tenure there he began his groundbreaking work in Surface Acoustic Wave (‘SAW’) devices.  He authored more than 50 patents in the SAW field and is known and respected by his colleagues around the globe.  In 1976, he was selected as  the ‘Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer in the United States’ by Eta Kappa Nu, the Electrical Engineering honorary society; and in 1978 he was recognized as a TI Fellow.  These two awards were the first of many, but today still hold the most honor and prestige of all that followed.  He is a Senior Life Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and has authored many technical papers.

After TI, Clinton embarked on an exciting and entrepreneurial career in pursuit of SAW device technology.  This work included successfully launching RF Monolithics (where Clinton was the CEO), providing consulting work across the globe as a highly regarded SAW device expert, and developing new groundbreaking innovations as the CEO of RF SAW, Inc.  Throughout these endeavors, Clinton continued to receive recognition and accolades as one of the founding fathers and luminaries in this field.

In 1978, Clinton met Martha Bonner, his wonderful wife and friend, and in 1986 they were married at Martha’s home in Dallas.  They recently celebrated their 25th Wedding Anniversary at a wonderful dinner in Taos, New Mexico surrounded by friends and family.

On a more personal side, Clinton was a fantastic mentor, father, uncle and eventually grandfather to his immediate and extended family.  He loved children and could make any child smile and laugh with his antics.  It was not unusual to find Clinton on the floor playing with the kids while the rest of the adults were at the table or sitting on the couch.  He taught most of the Hartmann cousins how to drive on the tractor in Fredericksburg or during driving trips in the 1951 Chevy known by all as the Ol’ Houbie.  Most recently his grandchildren, Raquel and Danielle, would have silly face and eyebrow contests over Facetime to see who could make the other one laugh first.

He was a great mentor to many, and during his last few months he received countless letters from people whom he had made a real difference in their lives.

When asked about his lifetime accomplishments, he did not want to be known for the multiple awards, but instead for his philosophies on education, giving, mentoring, and leaving the world in a better place than you found it….which he did.  We will all miss him dearly.


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