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Hamilton Fish Kean

Thu Apr 14th, 2016

Hamilton Kean died on April 7 at the age of 91.  He is remembered as a serious, dignified and generous member of the Millbrook community. 

Ham came from a distinguished family. His father, Robert Winthrop Kean, was a U.S. representative from New Jersey (1939−1959); Ham’s brother, Thomas Kean, was New Jersey’s governor from 1982 until 1990. His grandfather, Hamilton Fish Kean, was a U.S. senator (1929−1935). Ham was a relation of Hamilton Fish IV, a member of Congress who represented our district from 1969 until 1995. Ham was a descendant of New Jersey’s first governor, William Livingston, who served from 1776 to 1790, and of John Winthrop, first colonial governor of Massachusetts.  

Ham attended St. Bernard’s, St. Paul’s School, Princeton, and Columbia Law School.  He served in World War II.  Much of his professional life was devoted to causes in which he was deeply involved. Ham is remembered for his support of many environmental organizations.  He was an early member of the board of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which he continued to support over the years. He taught environmental law at New York University Law School and the State University of New York.  He served for 50 years on the board of Fountain House, of which he served as president.  He championed mental health issues, serving on New York’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health and on the Mental Health Services Council.  He chaired the Citizens’ Committee for Children and was an honorary director of Action for Children. Ham also chaired the World Federalist Endowment Fund and was a member of the executive committee of Citizens for Global Solutions and its Education Fund. At his death, he was chairman of Center for War/Peace Studies. 

Ham is survived by his wife of 27 years, Edith W. Kean, and by Leslie, Lisa and Lewis, children with his first wife, Ellen Garrison. His son, Garry, died in 2013.  Ham is survived by five siblings and six grandchildren: Eliza, Sam and Henry Douglas; Nicolas and Simon Kean; and Paul McKim. He also leaves three stepchildren, and five step-grandchildren.

The Kean home on North Tower Hill was the scene of memorable lunch parties.  Edie and Ham remembered their years in Millbrook with great fondness.  They were members of the Golf and Tennis Club and parishioners of St. Peter’s, Lithgow.

A memorial service will be held at the Church of the Holy Trinity at 316 East 88th Street, New York City, on April 30, at 11 a.m.  The Rev. Edward Johnson, formerly vicar of St. Peter’s, Lithgow, will conduct the service.  Burial will be in St. Peter’s cemetery “sometime in July.”