Carole and Rod Hartless

For a shining example of how giving does good for nurses, look no further than Carole and Rod Hartless. This compassionate Florida couple is in the business of making dreams come true. Their Hartless Foundation Endowment for Nursing provides vital scholarships for Cleveland Clinic caregivers who wish to become registered nurses. 


Why did you launch the nursing scholarship program? 

ROD: As we became more involved with Cleveland Clinic, we realized there was an overwhelming demand for more nurses.  My career was in resort management, where we had a program for advancing employees from within the organization. I adopted this model when we started the scholarship program in Florida in 2008 and later expanded it to Ohio in 2015. The purpose was to support employees who were ready to advance in their nursing careers.1 

Wonderful! You’ve made a big difference not only in the lives of those RNs, but in all the other lives those nurses have touched. 

CAROLE: It’s touching when we receive letters from scholarship recipients. They express their gratitude and share their personal stories. 

ROD: We’re amazed by what they’re able to accomplish. In the letters, what really strikes us are the obstacles that many of these nurses have to overcome. It’s not an easy road by any stretch. 

CAROLE: Right. They might be a single parent, raising children or taking care of sick parents or dealing with other family issues. And at the same time, they’re trying to get the education they need to carry on.  We’ve even had the pleasure of meeting a few scholarship winners in person. 

Please tell us more about that. 

CAROLE: Once when Rod was at Cleveland Clinic Weston Hospital, a nurse popped in to see us. She had received a scholarship, and she thanked us for helping her to complete her nursing journey. 

ROD: Meeting her was awesome. It makes it real. 

So you’ve experienced Cleveland Clinic from the patient side, too. 

ROD: I have. I’ve had two hip replacements and one left knee … 

CAROLE: … with Dr. Patel2

ROD: … so I’m sort of a robot. [laughs] 

What drives your philanthropy?  

ROD: When we first started our foundation, we didn’t really have a lot of direction. We just wrote a check whenever we found an organization that we wanted to help in some way.  Eventually, Carole suggested that we get more focused. We thought, “Who does the most good for the most people?” Almost immediately, we came to the conclusion that the major hospitals of the world do the most good. And from there, it didn’t take us long to get started with Cleveland Clinic.3 

CAROLE: We hope that we’re fulfilling some needs, now and in the future. 

ROD: When we give, we gain far more in return. If you want to be selfish, start a foundation and give everything away. In one sense, it’s the most selfish thing you can do, because it just feels wonderful. 
We love it.4


  1. To date, 21 nurses have gone through the program.  
  2. Preetesh Patel, MD, is an orthopaedic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Weston Hospital. 
  3. In addition to championing nurses, the Hartlesses are generous supporters of the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute. 
  4. In recognition of their legacy of giving, the Hartlesses won Cleveland Clinic’s George W. Crile Sr. Award in 2021. They were inducted into the 1921 Society in 2012.  

Carole and Rod Hartless were honored with the 2021 George W. Crile Sr. Award, which recognizes Pyramid Legacy Society members who have made outstanding contributions of time, talent and resources to Cleveland Clinic.