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Dr. Warren Hartman: Wadena's music man

Photo by Dana Pavek Warren Hartman has been a practicing musician since the age of 10, and still plays with the Wadena Community Band at age 78.

At the age of 10, Warren Hartman's mother and father surprised their young son with a special gift. Decades later, Hartman is still reaping the benefits of his parent's generous gesture -- the gift of music.

"My mom and dad bought me a trombone when I was in fifth grade," Hartman, 78, said as he pulled the shiny brass instrument from its weathered case. "I have two other trombones, but this one -- it's special."

Hartman, who's known to many as Dr. Hartman for his veterinarian practice in Wadena, has lived a life enriched by music.

Besides learning to play the trombone when he was 10, his mother enrolled him in piano lessons. Hartman admits he had a hard time focusing on the keyboard.

"I wasn't a very good student," chuckled Hartman. "I went through many teachers until Jean Johnson. She took me on and stuck with me until I had my senior recital."

While attending Wadena High School, Hartman sang in the choir and quartet, acted in several plays and played trombone in the concert, marching, German and dance bands, as well as the community band.

The seven-piece dance band would play on the weekends and throughout the summer in Menahga, Park Rapids and other small towns around the area, explained Hartman. Members included Hartman; Dick Robertson, cornet; Dave Storvik, clarinet; Jim Zosel, saxophone; Keith Engh, drums; Bill Davis, string bass; and Marilyn Bloom, piano.

"If you look at our dance band members, they went on to college and had successful careers. I think music motivates people to do things," Hartman said.

Growing up in Wadena, Hartman's father raced harnessed horses at county fairs around Minnesota. Hartman's father served on the prestigious U.S. Trotting Association board for 19 years. Stricken by arthritis, the elder Hartman couldn't race the horses, but would provide public commentary over the loud speaker at the races.

It was from his father and the family's horses that Hartman learned about animal husbandry. After graduating from Wadena High School in 1949, Hartman attended the University of Minnesota where he received his veterinarian science degree. He served in the Army and spent time in Wisconsin gaining experience in veterinary work before settling back home in Wadena.

Today, Hartman is still playing his trombone in Wadena's community band. He's proud to be a member of this band made up of musicians of all ages.

Hartman and his wife, Carolyn, stay busy with their veterinarian practice. They have three grown children: sons Karl and Jim and daughter Laurie, all of whom have been involved in music in their lives. Hartman also dedicates his free time to volunteering in United Way and Boy Scouts. He also served on Wadena's school board for several years.

As classical music from the public radio station softly plays in the background at Hartman's office, an occasional yelp from a furry patient is heard. Hartman puts away his trombone and gets ready for his next appointment. He hums along to the music, then shares this parting thought:

"Music is something that you can carry with you throughout your life," Hartman said. "It's vitally important that we continue to expose our youth to music."