Tom Hartwell

SAXAPAHAW, N.C. – Tom Hartwell, 36, died of heart failure on Nov. 12, 2021, while moving heavy furniture into the condominium he had just bought in Saxapahaw, N.C.. Tom was born with a heart condition and had heart surgery as a teenager; his condition flared up at the time of his death. One of his best friends from childhood was beside him when he died.

Tom grew up in Portland, Maine and graduated from Deering High School in 2003. After studying journalism at UNC Chapel Hill, he made his home in Carrboro, N.C.

Like any good journalist, Tom was a great listener and a clear writer. He was an engaging conversationalist who loved to draw out other people. He saw the talent in others and nurtured their growth. He was intelligent, with wide, deep, eclectic knowledge. His apartment was filled with books, music, and writing. He was an editor and mentor to other writers, and the kind of person who would show up at any hour to help a friend in need. As one of his friends put it, “His heart knew no strangers.”

Tom is survived by his parents, Davis and Jane Hartwell of Portland; his brother and sister-in-law, Ben and Giuliana Hartwell of Boston; and his nephew, Hugo.

Tom’s family is deeply grateful for Tom’s life, for his many close friends who stood by him throughout his life, even to the moment of his death, and for all those who have helped him and us through life’s journey.

There will be two memorial services.

For his friends in North Carolina, the family will host a celebration of his life at The Station in Carrboro on Friday, Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. This will be videotaped for those who cannot attend.

Tom’s life will also be celebrated in Portland on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. at Trinity Church, 580 Forest Ave. Please wear regular clothes (not black) and wear masks at the church to comply with recommended Covid protocols. The funeral will be livestreamed on the Trinity Church Facebook and YouTube channels, accessible via the church homepage: A reception will follow.

There will be a wake at Trinity on Friday, Dec. 10 from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Please post memories about Tom on his Kudoboard at

Donations in Tom’s memory may be sent to:

Inter-Faith Council for Social Service

110 W. Main St.

Carrboro, NC 27510

an organization to which Tom donated in the past

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