Editorial | Chapin heir continued family’s focus on philanthropy

11/26/2013 5:09 PM

11/26/2013 5:11 PM

Harry Hartshorne -- artist and collector of art, philanthropist and benefactor to Myrtle Beach, world traveler from an early age and Wisconsin farmer, WWII Army Air Corps officer -- was first introduced to Myrtle Beach in 1928, when he visited here with his grandfather, Simeon B. Chapin.

Hartshorne, who died in October at the age of 95, carried on the philanthropy that marked his Chapin grandparents.

“To know Harry was to know Simeon Chapin,’’ says Cookie Sprouse, executive director of the Chapin Foundation, who knew Hartshorne well.

When he was about 10 years old, he visited his grandparents in Southern Pines, N.C., she says. One day his grandfather told him to pack his bag for a trip to Myrtle Beach, where they stayed at Pine Lakes Country Club.

Years later, “Harry came to a gala for the Myrtle Beach Art Museum and walked up the stairs [at Pine Lakes] to the room where he stayed when he was 10,’’ Sprouse recalls.

The art museum became just one beneficiary of Hartshorne’s philanthropy.

“He was close to both grandparents,’’ Sprouse says. His maternal grandmother was Elizabeth Mattox Chapin, known as Bess. Harry was the son of Marietta Chapin Hartshorne. She died during childbirth when Harry was 2. His father, Harold Hartshorne, married twice more and Harry had six half siblings.

Hartshorne was on the board of directors of the Burroughs and Chapin Company for 50 years and served on the Chapin Foundation board. It was through the foundation that his impact was felt on such Myrtle Beach institutions such as the Claire Chapin Epps YMCA and the Chapin Memorial Library.

The Chapin Foundation here is one of four foundations established in 1943 by Simeon Brooks Chapin in communities where he had homes.

An obituary in the Lake Geneva News reports Hartshorne supported “Lake Geneva’s YMCA and Horticultural Hall, both founded by his grandfather. The Chicago Lyric Opera, Music by the Lake, the Lake Geneva Library, ... George Williams College and Princeton University received yearly donations from Harry.’’

“Whenever Harry came to the beach, we would do ‘the Harry tour.’ I would have a day with him ... we would go see people in the community to hear about their charitable work. Harry loved doing that. He took his stewardship seriously,’’ Sprouse says.

From an early age he traveled to Europe with his maternal grandmother, Bess Chapin. They studied architecture, visited museums, attended opera performances. He was fluent in French and helped train French cadets in Alabama during WWII. He earned his pilot’s wings in 1943. He played the piano and swam daily in Lake Geneva in summertime and in the ocean when at his condo here.

“Everybody loved Harry. We have lost so much in the passing of Harry.’’

It seems appropriate as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, for the Myrtle Beach area to remember and be thankful for the life of Harold “Harry’’ Hartshorne Jr., and his impact on our region.

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