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Author biography: Robert Hartley
Robert E. Hartley, author

Bob Hartley fell in love with the West in the 1960s. Since then he has lived and traveled in, studied and written about the region. "Yellowstone National Park made a serious impression on me during my first visit in 1961," says the author. "While attending to business in the brush, a black bear appeared and chased me back to the safety of the car in which I had been riding. It is the natural beauty of the park that has drawn me to it since then, not the desire for another bear encounter."

In the 2000s he and his wife have introduced his older grandchildren to the splendors of Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, taking them for visits to enjoy the natural beauty.

He learned of the 1883 expedition of President Chester A. Arthur to Yellowstone National Park in 1995. Hartley presented a history paper on the subject, and a magazine article was published. The approaching 125th anniversary of Arthur's trip (2008) inspired Saving Yellowstone.

He and his family traveled the route of Lewis & Clark's expedition in 1971, tracing the route by automobile from Illinois to the Missouri River headwaters. "A highlight was a boat trip downstream from Fort Benton to the Judith River, stopping at L and C camping sites," Hartley said. Thirty years later, he published Lewis & Clark in the Illinois Country: The Little-Told Story, a book about the time spent in Illinois by the explorers.

Hartley, a native of Winfield, Kansas, has been writing professionally for almost 60 years. "Writing is almost as much a part of my life as breathing. I discovered serious writing at age 14, working as a sports writer for my hometown newspaper." He graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Kansas then had a 30-year career in the newspaper business — as reporter, editor, and publisher. "During that time I wrote constantly as part of my work. Twice I wrote published books on Illinois politics. As newspaper work took me to Idaho, Ohio and Washington State, I maintained a writing regime for a variety of publications, and discovered the importance of editing to the writing process," Hartley said. "The same was true during a 12-year career in public relations."

He retired in 1998 as co-CEO of Seattle's Rockey Company. During this time writing was part of the day job. In his spare time he wrote for wire services (sports), newspapers (politics and travel), and magazines (sports, politics and travel), and wrote books, too. Today he continues to write. "As retirement arrived I reached my goal of fulltime writing about politics and history. Since 1999 I have written or co-written five books and a handful of history magazine articles. " He frequently makes presentations at history meetings and symposia. In April 2006, he and co-author David Kenney received a certificate for superior achievement from the Illinois State Historical Society for Death Underground: The Centralia and West Frankfort Mine Disasters. It was the second award from ISHS for the duo. In 2004 he and Kenney were honored for their scholarly work on Illinois senators. In early 2004, the Illinois State Library selected Lewis & Clark in the Illinois Country as the focus of its Corps of Discovery bicentennial celebration.

"On 14 occasions since 1983 I have presented history papers at annual programs sponsored by the Illinois Historical Society and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency," Hartley said. "The subjects have inspired books and history articles, and have resulted from research for such projects."

He and his wife, Mary, live in Winfield, Kansas.

Click here for a detailed CV of Robert Hartley's work.