Known for his loving nature and his devotion to caring for others, Dr. Hartstein owned a practice on Main Street in East Hampton for nearly 10 years and more recently took over a practice in Montauk.
“His kind, gentle demeanor touched people’s hearts and his strong, confident hands healed their bodies,” his wife, Heather Hartstein, said.
Kevin Hart, an interior designer, and his partner Dr. Emmanuel Faccio who live in East Hampton were close friends with Dr. Hartstein. For seven years, as patients and neighbors, the two frequently ran into Dr. Hartstein at his office or visited him and his wife. As a chiropractor, “he was comforting and gentle,” Mr. Hart said. “He always had a smile.”
“The medical community referred a lot of patients to him,” said Robert Bonavolta, a neuromuscular massage therapist and volunteer EMT who owns the Montauk Wellness Center. “He was passionate about caring for people; he was a traditional caregiver,” he said.
Dr. Hartstein grew up in Farmingville with his parents Mel and Joyce Hartstein and his older brother Matt. He attended Sachem High School, and State University of New York Geneseo, where he majored in biology. Immediately following college, he attended New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls and then opened his practice in Montauk.
“He had just gotten out of chiropractic college, and I had just opened up the center when we met in 2002,” Mr. Bonavolta said. With a room available, he asked Dr. Hartstein if he wanted to use the space. “He had a start here,” he said.
Dr. Harstein was a very loyal and giving man, according to Mr. Hart. “We could call him to ask him to do anything,” he said. “We were planning to move furniture up from the basement and he said ‘I’d love to help you guys out.”
After meeting him, many people would come to his brother Matt and say, “he just gets it.” It was obvious for those around him to see that he loved life and knew how to treat others.
“Everyone knew him as a big smiling, happy, lover of life in all its forms,” Mr. Bonavolta said.
Dr. Hartstein spent a lot of time with his children, Logan, Devon and Shane, was a loving son to his parents, a devoted brother and a supportive husband, Ms. Hartstein said. College sweethearts, the two have been together for 17 years and married for 12.
According to Ms. Hartstein, she and her husband were both committed to working at their marriage and their parenting. “We never gave up on each other. He was a healer,” she said.
Dr. Hartstein most likely contracted Hantavirus in the basement of his home in Montauk, approximately six weeks ago, while he was preparing to convert the small space to a woodworking shop for himself, family said.
His first symptoms of the virus started two weeks prior to his death. Similar to Lyme disease, he had muscle tightness, joint pain and light fatigue. Exactly one week prior to his death, he felt very ill, but his symptoms seemed to wane the night he celebrated his and his wife’s mutual birthday with friends. Two days before he died, he went for a blood test for Lyme, started medicine, and developed a 104 degree fever that evening. Early Friday morning, June 17, he was taken to Southampton Hospital where he died.
According to Ms. Hartstein, nearly 500 people celebrated his life on Thursday, June 23, at a traditional Buddhist Powa ceremony in his honor at Solé East in Montauk.
Survivors believe the many friends who attended the ceremony is a testament to Dr. Hartstein’s character. “Dave touched the lives of so many,” Ms. Hartstein said.
Donations to help his family can be made to the East End Foundation c/o Roger Feit, P.O. Box 1746, Montauk, NY 11954. The memo line on the check should say “Heather Hartstein.”
A benefit for the family is planned at Solé East on Friday, July 15. For further information, call Cindi Ceva at (631) 668-2105.