Diane Kathleen Hartle (née Schritz), a faculty member in the College of Pharmacy from 1988 to 2011, passed away peacefully at home on St. George Island, Florida, with her husband, James Hargrove, and other family members by her side on Sunday, December 27, 2020, after battling ovarian cancer since 2015.
Although a list of her accomplishments would be impressive, it would not inform a person about how a farm girl from rural Minnesota became a distinguished scientist, or the manner in which a young woman managed to negotiate a time when nearly all university professors were male.
Diane was born Sept. 10, 1947 in Breckenridge, Minnesota, to John and Jeanette (née Kluck) Schritz. She grew up on a farm near Barnesville, MN. However, when Diane saw the Sputnik I satellite pass overhead in 1957, she decided that she wanted to become a scientist. Unknown to her, the Russian satellite also caused officials in the United States to begin training more young people in science and engineering, and she later participated in biological projects on space shuttle Challenger and Spacelab 3.
She attended high school at the Mt. St. Benedict Academy in Crookston, MN, and entered the College of St. Benedict near St. Joseph, MN, but won a National Science Foundation stipend to work in a laboratory at the University of Minnesota.
In an odd twist, she was cooking at a fishing lodge in northern Manitoba when Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon in the summer of 1969. As she was listening by short wave radio, three Cree Indians arrived and expressed disbelief because “that would really make the Moon goddess mad.”
In 1967, the NSF stipend allowed Diane to train in the laboratory of Dr. Stanley Dagley, studying microbial benzene metabolism. To pay for her education, she began full-time work as a laboratory technician and took university classes under a regents’ fellowship. Her first scientific work was published in 1973-1976, and described changes in intracellular messengers called cyclic nucleotides during contraction of certain muscles.
She completed her B.S. degree in Biochemistry in 1975 and entered graduate school, which was beginning to accept highly qualified young women into doctoral programs. She married James Hargrove in August, 1975 and the couple moved to the University of Iowa, where she continued her graduate education and he did post-doctoral research in biochemistry.
Diane earned her doctorate in Pharmacology from the University of Iowa in 1981. Her doctoral mentor, Michael J. Brody, focused on the role of the central nervous system in regulating blood pressure. For her dissertation, Diane mapped sets of neurons in the hypothalamus that affect the development of renal hypertension. When asked to describe her work, she always said, “I am a cardiovascular neuroscientist.” Both of her children were born while she and James were in Iowa.
Diane moved with her family to Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine, where she conducted post-doctoral work with Dr. John Manning, studying how nerves in the preoptic area affect regulation of the heart. In 1984, she won a position as Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at Emory. She worked with NASA experiments on Space Shuttle Challenger and Spacelab 3, and proved that during spaceflight, the heart releases a hormone that causes excretion of sodium by the kidney.
In 1988, Diane was offered a faculty position in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Georgia, where she conducted research in cardiovascular neuroscience and taught graduate students in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
Diane served on clinical science study sections at the National Institutes of Health and was chosen as Chairman of the Review Committee of the Georgia Heart Association, the first woman and first Ph.D. to serve in that capacity. During her career, she was principal investigator or co-investigator on almost $2 million in research grants from the NIH, the Georgia Heart Association, and other agencies.
Diane was an excellent teacher and mentor. She was elected Teacher of the Year in the College of Pharmacy in 1993, and she served on 66 graduate student committees. She and her students authored or co-authored over 65 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters.
Diane also served as an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Foods and Nutrition. In 2000, with a Georgia Cancer Initiative developing, Dr. Hartle focused her attention on the potential “nutraceutical” effects of natural chemicals found in muscadine grapes, pecans and sorghum grain. Prior to retiring in 2011, she conducted research on health benefits of Georgia muscadine grapes, becoming known as Madame Muscadine.
Diane loved painting and gardening with plants that support birds and butterflies. She was able to continue both activities until late 2020. She is survived by her husband, their daughter, Katharine (Hargrove) Phinney (James) and son, John Justin Hargrove (Linsey Murdock) and their children, as well as by sisters Pat Quinn, Mary Sue LeNoue, Wendy Harman and Stacey Khyn, plus brothers Jerry Schritz and John Jeffrey Schritz.
In lieu of flowers, it was Diane’s wish for donations to be made to the Mount St. Benedict Monastery, 620 Summit Ave N, Crookston, MN 56716. She requested that no memorial service be held.
Diane and James as newlyweds. Diane was in the doctoral program at University of Iowa at the time.
Diane with her daughter.
Diane conducting research at the UGA College of Pharmacy.
Diane and husband James at Lake McBride in Iowa, with matching garments she sewed.