Will Hartman, 33, drowned October 31, 2016, while kayaking in a remote, mountainous region in northern India.
Most recently a resident of White Salmon, Wash., Will was a life-long kayaker and traveled the world in search of Class IV and V white water.
He is the son of Lynn Hunt and Steve Hartman, both of Randolph, N.H., and the brother of Reid Hartman, of Gorham, N.H. He is a graduate of Gorham High School and St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.
Will was kayaking on the Ummig River, in the town of Mawsynram in Meghalaya state. He was part of a seven-person highly skilled and experienced kayaking group.
A service will be held in Randolph in the spring. His ashes will be spread in places he visited on five continents.
Will spent his adult life as a river guide in Norway during the summers and as a carpenter in the winters out West.
His passion, however, was kayaking.
He lived an adventurous life most can only dream of, and few have the courage to pursue.
Will was not, however, a reckless thrill-seeker, and his broad smile and easy-going way belied his experiences. To family members, seeing video of him going over a 60-foot waterfall in a five-foot kayak was frightening.
Many of the rivers he kayaked were in exotic, remote locations and to get to them often required unusual navigation skills. Will shared snippets of stories of how he and his buddies worked their way through areas run by drug lords in Mexico or were chased by rebels in Africa.
His mother Lynn, whose heart is broken like only a mother’s can be, says, “His wild stories he shared so humbly, from his pursuits paddling around the globe, will live on through all his adventurous friends who share his passion.”
The community of extreme kayakers is relatively small but worldwide, and a strong bond unites it. After 10 years of kayaking and traveling, Will was well known.
Facebook has been deluged with notes of condolences and remembrances from around the world:
“Will, simply being the person you were made the world and our community a better place. Your unwavering kind, humble, positive and relaxed nature brought feelings of comfort, calmness and joy whenever I was around you.”
“What stands out in my mind was your individuality. I loved the way you would look at the biggest, gnarliest shit then just calmly walk back to your boat, drop in and style it with barely a word. I'm always gonna run my mouth too much man, but you showed the value of silence. The hushed tranquility in the midst of chaos.”
“I thought about life and what this all means. I wondered about the agony of loss and the continuous struggles of losing those we love. Will is one of the kindest souls I have ever met. With a gentle and calm presence he exemplified light through his soft words and purposeful way in which he made you feel as though he was listening to every single word you said.”
Born in 1983, it is fitting he is on the leading edge of the millennials, and, as such, will be remembered as one of that generation’s Renaissance men.
He was Gorham High’s state Ski Meister, was a lead actor in community theater, had a flare for art, and was a writer. Though living away, Will always was around at the right time or when his family needed him, whether it was dropping in at his cousin’s college graduation in Utah or this summer helping his brother work on a house he just purchased.
He grew up in a house on Randolph Hill that directly faces Mount Adams, the second highest mountain in the Presidentials.
Mount Adams is considered a holy mountain, and groups worldwide make pilgrimages to it for prayer and spiritual awakening.
Though not brought up in a religious household, Will seemed to channel the mountain’s special energies and universality.
His dad, Steve, recalls one day when he and Will, 12 or 13 at the time, climbed Mount Jefferson and traversed to Mount Adams. The wind chill was great, even though it was summer, and they settled under cover of rocks for lunch and hot tea.
Steve remembers Will saying, “Dad, I feel close to God here.”
The spirit he felt that day, the spirit he carried with him every day of his life, lives on in the lives of all those he touched.
Will will be missed dearly by Steve’s wife, Wendy Walsh, and Lynn’s husband, Jim Hunt; his brother, Reid Hartman of Gorham, N.H., and his daughter, Isabella Hartman; his aunt, Lois Hartman of Bradford, Mass.; his uncle, Mark Guerringue of Conway, N.H.; cousins, Jennifer Hartman and her partner Tanya Campus, and their daughter, Rebekah Campus-Hartman, of Lunenburg, Mass.; Rachel Hartman and her husband Matthew Tung, and their daughter Hazel Hartman Tung, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Lee Guerringue, of Winchester, Mass. and Brett Guerringue, of Slovakia.
Will was predeceased by his uncle, Keith Hartman; aunt, Ardyth Seiler; cousin, Chris Hartman; and grandparents, Cleo and Reuben Hartman and Barbara and Donald Guerringue.