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Obituary: Francis J. Hartnett Jr.

Francis J. “Frank” Hartnett Jr., e 60, a resident of Lunenburg and former longtime Pepperell resident, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, August 31, 2017.  

Frank Jr. was born June 7, 1957 in Groton, a son of Francis J. Hartnett Sr. and Gertrude (Pillsbury) Hartnett. He received his early education at the Country Day School in Groton, and was a graduate of Merrimack College in North Andover with a degree in economics, the first of seven family members who would receive degrees from Merrimack College. 

Upon graduation in 1979, Frank Jr. joined the family newspaper business, Nashoba Publications, Inc., and for the next 21 years he led the business along with his Dad, Frank Sr. Frank Jr. was managing editor and co-publisher of six weekly newspapers; The Pepperell Free Press, Ayer Public Spirit, Townsend Times, Groton Landmark, Harvard Villager, and Fort Devens Dispatch, with a combined circulation of 20,000. Frank Jr. was an instrumental part of the local business leaders who contributed to the resurgence and redevelopment of the former Army base Fort Devens, what is now a thriving commercial and residential community called Devens.   

Frank Jr. negotiated a sale of the family newspaper business in 2000 to the Media News Group, the fifth largest newspaper publisher in the United States, including its flagship paper the Denver Post, as well as The Lowell Sun, Fitchburg Sentinel, and The Voice.

After staying on with Media News Group for a period of time, Frank Jr. ventured on to work in residential and commercial real estate, as well as having affiliations with Catalano Enterprises (Dunkin’ Donuts) and South Coast Development Corp. of Harvard.

Frank Jr. was an avid and accomplished amateur golfer, having played Division 2 golf at Merrimack College. He was also a two-time club champion at Groton Country Club.  One of Frank’s greatest joys in life was to have been a long-time girl’s basketball coach.  He proudly and enthusiastically coached his daughters Kelly and Katy at the AAU and local TAP levels. Both Kelly and Katy went on to play very successfully at Saint. Bernard’s High School in Fitchburg.. 

Frank Jr. is survived by his wife of 27 years, Linda (Rakip) Hartnett,  of Lunenburg; his parents Francis J. Hartnett Sr., and Gertude (Pillsbury) Hartnett of Pepperell;  his daughters Kristen (Ryan) and her husband Keith of Ayer; Kelly, also of Lunenburg, and Kathryn (Katy) of Lebanon, NH, and Katy’s significant other Ryan Oldfield; his granddaughters Lily Ryan, Sydney Ryan and Harper Ryan of Ayer; his brother Michael and his wife Sandy of Pepperell; and his sister Cathy Hartnett Walmsley, also of Pepperell, and her former husband James Walmsley III of Exeter, NH;  his two nieces, Meghan (Hartnett) Ducko of Langhorne, PA, Jenilynn Hartnett of Pepperell; and his two nephews, Michael Hartnett of Dorchester and Jimmy Walmsley of Lowell;  And his uncle and aunt, Thomas Hartnett and his wife Norma of Groton. Frank Jr. will surely be missed by his large extended family including many cousins he was very close to.

Frank Jr. was pre-deceased by his maternal grandparents, Leo and Catherine (McGrath) Pillsbury, and by his paternal grandparents, Frank and Marguerite (Jones) Hartnett of Groton.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend Frank Jr.’s Memorial Funeral Mass of Christian burial will  be celebrated Friday September 8 at OUR LADY OF GRACE PARISH  worshipping at St. Joseph’s church 28 Tarbell St,. Pepperell at 6 .pm.

The family will be holding a private internment ceremony at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may kindly be made to Saint Bernard’s High School 45 Harvard St., Fitchburg, MA 01420 or the Ayer Community School 21A Washington St., Ayer, MA 01432). Arrangements by the McGAFFIGAN Funeral Home 37 Main St. Pepperell, MA 01463 please see  


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