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Kenneth Nelson Hart

January 13, 1930 December 24, 2014
Kenneth Nelson Hart
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Obituary for Kenneth Nelson Hart

South Kingstown: Kenneth Nelson Hart, a renowned antitrust litigator, loving father, grandfather and scourge of the piping plover, died peacefully on December 24th, 2014 in Providence, Rhode Island, surrounded by family.  He was a 37 year resident of Pound Ridge, NY,  and had a summer residence in Wakefield, RI, where he spent his retirement years.
Ken was born on January 13, 1930 in Providence, RI to  Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Hart.  His parents instilled in him the value of hard work, the importance of education, and the notion of always doing the right thing.  These ultimately became the guiding principles of his life.  He graduated in 1951 from Colby College in Waterville, Me.  He was drafted into the United States Marine Corps during the Korean conflict on September 28, 1951, and served honorably for two years, leaving active duty with the rank of Sergeant. He often credited the experience as the best thing that happened to him at that point in terms of making him focus on his values and life objectives.
Upon his discharge from the Marines he enrolled in Boston University Law School, where he made Law Review and graduated first in his class in 1957.  After graduation, he joined the United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, through the newly-created Attorney General’s Honors Program.
After serving with distinction for four years, Ken joined the law firm Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine in New York, becoming a partner in 1968, and eventually becoming Managing Partner and Chairman of the Executive Committee. At the time, Donovan Leisure was one of the largest and most prestigious firms in New York City.  During his tenure at the firm he was involved in many high-profile litigation matters, representing clients including Pfizer, Kodak, American Cyanimid, Penn Central and General William Westmoreland.   As a result of his success as a litigator, Ken was nominated and became a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Ken was able to combine his innate sense of right and wrong, his knowledge of the law, and his wry sense of humor in a case in the early 1990’s when he was given a citation for criminal trespass by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at Moonstone Beach, South Kingstown, RI. Rather than paying a nominal fine, he represented himself before the U.S. District Court in Providence.   He won his argument, noting that the Rhode Island Constitution trumped federal law in the management of its seashore, and that the federal government had no standing in contending their actions were reasonable, given their attempt to protect the nesting area of the piping plover.
He served on the Board of Overseers for his alma mater, Colby College, and served on the Board of Trustees of the Office of Strategic Services Society.
He is survived by his sister Barbara Shanahan; six daughters and two sons; Lindsey Leask, of Duxbury Ma.,  Lowell Hart of Vail Co., Allison MacDonald of Glen Ridge NJ., Stephanie Nowell of Charlestown RI., Abigail Liell of Manchester Vt., Jessica Selden of Fairfield Ct., Kevin Hart of Arlington Va., and Rebecca Chinappa of Amherst Ma.,  He is also survived by fourteen grandchildren.
Funeral and burial were private. Donations in Ken’s memory can be made to the South Kingstown Land Trust, 227 Robinson Street, Wakefield, RI 02879

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