Delaware's June Jam CEO, founder Hartley dead at 68

By Craig Horleman
Posted 4/15/24

Bob Hartley, CEO and president of the June Jam charity music festival, died in his sleep Sunday.

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Delaware's June Jam CEO, founder Hartley dead at 68


VIOLA — Bob Hartley, CEO and president of the June Jam charity music festival, died in his sleep Sunday.

Lynn Fowler, executive vice president of the event, which will mark its 46th year June 15 at G&R Campground in Houston, said he was the last surviving member of its founding group. Mr. Hartley would have turned 69 on Saturday.

In 1978, seven friends from the Caesar Rodney High School class of 1973, including Mr. Hartley, decided to create an impromptu fundraiser to benefit the families of one classmate who had been killed and two who had been injured in an electrical incident at a roofing site.

Since then, the festival has raised well over $1 million for various local causes.

And, as other concert series shut down during the pandemic, June Jam remained on stage, which led Mr. Hartley to lay claim that it was the largest continuous music fest in the nation.

“He said to me once, ‘I have been to thousands of totally awesome places. I have met, hung out with and spent time with musical legends. I have gotten to know their families, been to their houses,’” Ms. Fowler said Monday.

“He said, ‘I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve learned so much about music. But my favorite part of June Jam is the people that I get to help.’”

She explained that the way in which June Jam’s money has been dispersed has changed through the years.

“We used to give a bulk sum to three different beneficiaries right after the jam. What we do now is we disperse throughout the year,” she said. “If there’s a local person with cancer, we’ll get them a gas card from Wawa, or we’ll pay directly to a hotel, so they can stay near the hospital. Or we’ll give them a grocery store gift card, or we’ll go to the drugstore and write a check for their medication.”

Ms. Fowler said Mr. Hartley always pushed her to go the extra mile.

“He was my daytime June Jam husband,” she said. “We had a glorious love-hate relationship. And he loved to challenge me. And he literally sat back and waited for me to fail. And, every time he challenged me, I said, ‘I can handle this. Hold my beer.’”

And, each time she succeeded or Mr. Hartley did something perhaps he shouldn’t have, he always gave her a gift.

“He would leave a piece of cheesecake in my mailbox. And, because I’m from New Jersey, it was always a piece of New York cheesecake. It was never just a grocery store cheesecake. It was a New York cheesecake that he would buy at the Camden (Wyoming) Market,” she said, adding that, last time, it was an entire cake.

“I never found out why he gave me a whole cheesecake, but I think he gave away tickets to somebody. I would say to him, ‘Do not give them tickets. They are more than capable of paying for tickets.’ And then, I would say, ‘How many tickets did you give away today, Bob?’ And he never kept track of his ticket numbers. So, we always fought about that.”

Away from June Jam, Mr. Hartley was a former employee of Diamond Electric and the current managing partner of MainStay Suites Dover.

Despite his death, June Jam will go on. Ms. Fowler said she will pick up the reins and asks people who may have outstanding business with Mr. Hartley regarding June Jam to call her at 302-272-3127.

“I’m just not letting it go. I’m going to keep it going. As long as I can keep it going, I’m going to do it for him. I’m going to do it for all of the people who have supported us and been loyal for all these years,” she said.

This year’s June Jam will feature Shoot to Thrill, an all-female AC/DC tribute band; Tommy Conwell; Nothin’ but Trouble; Pistol Whipped; and Stone Jack Ballers.

For information, visit

Funeral arrangements for Mr. Hartley were incomplete as of Monday.

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