Obituary: Devon Wright Hartman

Husband, father, grandfather, brother, and community leader

Devon Wright Hartman, 73, who called Claremont home for almost 50 years, died February 18. He died in his wife’s arms surrounded by his daughters, after eating his favorite comfort food, drinking his favorite latte, and taking a walk. “Not even cancer could keep Devon from living life to its fullest on his terms,” his family shared.

Devon was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Dorothy Wilkes (Bowers) and James Hartman. He grew up in Wichita, Kansas, the oldest of four brothers, Eric Hartman, Keck Hartman (Beth McGilley), and Grant Hartman (Elizabeth Hartman).

His lifelong journey of improving the lives of those around him began after he lost two of his best friends in the Vietnam War. It spurred his interest in socio-cultural issues, leading him to drop out of college and move to Hollywood in 1969. He credited Don Williams, a local pastor, for the spiritual transformation of his life.

Hollywood Boulevard was filled with at risk youth from all over the country, and he helped initiate and run houses that welcomed and cared for transient young people. It was often said his empathy and expressions of hope helped change numerous lives. While running a home for youth in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and assisting Williams teach a college class, he met Mary Beierle, who became a longtime friend and eventual love of his life. “Devon was personally transformed by the power of love and acceptance, and that experience guided his relationship with others the rest of his life,” his family added.

In the mid-70s, he continued his studies at Pitzer College, where he began studying French and psychology. During his study abroad program in Paris, Claude de Chérisey, the director of the French program, invited him to help her brother, Bertrand, restore a section of the de Chérisey Chateau in Burgundy. There he apprenticed under a stone mason and discovered his love of the art and craft of architecture and building. He also learned the importance of beauty, art, and culture and how they can lift our spirits and enrich our lives.

Upon his return from France, he began his study of architecture and continued apprenticing with the finest builders. Together with close friend Bill Baldwin, he co-founded HartmanBaldwin Design/Build, a locally and nationally celebrated company. He was very passionate about the early historic preservation movement, which focused on protecting Claremont’s unique charm.

In the early 2000s, an article by a Chicago architect opened his eyes to the inefficiency of residential buildings. He was shocked to realize they were making beautiful buildings resembling cardboard boxes instead of thermoses.

“During this time, his friend Gayle Kelley introduced Devon to Native American leaders who shared with him and our family the concerns of the first peoples of this land,” his family said. “He learned that all land is sacred and the importance of each person’s responsibility to the Earth.”

In 2010, he fulfilled a personal dream and began his career building the nonprofit CHERP (Community and Home Energy Revolution Project), a transformative engine to eliminate the barriers to meeting national and local energy-efficiency goals and help reduce the effects of human-driven climate change. CHERP focuses on educating and engaging the community about improving home performance to reduce energy consumption, maintain a more comfortable home with lower bills, and contribute to the sustainability of our natural resources and future health.

In 2015, at a League of Women Voters presentation, he met Kent Kernahan, the inventor who would join him for the next stage of his career. Kent had an eye-opening experience of his own when he realized all of his patents were being manufactured overseas, and he was determined to remedy that with his patented new solar panel technology.

Kernahan proposed the locally grown power program to him, and together they developed LGP as CHERP’s capstone initiative, building the world’s first nonprofit solar factory. CHERP’s factory gives form to the vision of bringing middle-class manufacturing jobs back to the United States. “With Devon’s leadership showing the way, each subsequent locally owned nonprofit factory will produce jobs, panels, and energy within communities across the country, especially producing energy and opportunity in underserved communities,” his family added.

He was very grateful to his mentors, pastor Don Williams, Claude de Chérisey, Chief Oren Lyons, Jeff Welch, and John Cobb. He also often shared how incredibly thankful he was for the support and life lessons learned from his wife, Mary, and his daughters, Meghan and Emily.

He is survived by his loving wife Mary Beierle; daughters Meghan Beierle-O’Brien (John Rauschelbach), and Emily Beierle-O’Brien; grandsons Hendrix Rauschelbach and Liam Furnivall; and brothers Keck and Grant Hartman. He is also survived by his legacies with his HartmanBaldwin and CHERP families.

His passions were family, travel, food, reading, and nurturing people and communities.

Services will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23 at CHERP Solar Works, 1460 E. Holt Ave., Suite 1440, Pomona, CA 91767.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to CHERP, Inc. at, or by mail to 112 Harvard Ave., #344, Claremont, CA 91711.


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