Henry W. Hart, a longtime resident of Woodbury, CT, passed away on December 2, 2018, at the age of 94. Hart was born in Omaha, Nebraska on July 26, 1924, and spent his first years in Council Bluffs, Iowa before moving to Minneapolis, where he attended Blake School for eight years. In 1942, he entered Yale University. A year later, he left to train as a pilot with the Army Air Corps. The Army ultimately transferred him to the 65th Infantry Division and the 41st Infantry Division. During World War II, he served as a rifle platoon leader near Zamboanga, Mindanao, and the Philippines. During the occupation of Japan, he was in charge of destroying amunition warehouses around Hiroshima that had survived the atomic bomb. He returned to Yale in 1946, switched majors from psychology to civil engineering, ran on the Yale track team, and graduated in 1949 as a member of the class of ‘45W.
After his classes ended, Hart joined two Harvard archaeologists on a 5,000-mile expedition by jeep in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1950, he worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructing the Garrison Dam in North Dakota. When war broke out in Korea, he rejoined the Army, which sent him to Alaska to train recruits in Arctic warfare. Later he went to Augsburg, Germany, to command a Regimental Headquarters Company. In 1951, he married Virginia Walker of Cornwall, CT. The following year, Hart got a job as an engineer at Scovill Manufacturing Co. in Waterbury, and bought a rustic summer cottage and some land on Quanopaug Trail in Woodbury. He rebuilt the cottage, which had no electricity or running water, and added on enough rooms to accommodate a family. With the help of his children, he turned most of his 12 acres into a Christmas tree farm. He continued to serve in the National Guard, and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel when he retired in 1964.
In 1966, as a member of the Woodbury-Bethlehem school board, Hart supervised the construction of Nonnewaug High School. He also worked for Eagle Pencil in Danbury and then General Electric in Bridgeport during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1976, he started his own surveying and engineering company, which was headquartered in an office he built in his house. An active member of Woodbury’s North Congregational Church, he served as church treasurer for five years and as a scoutmaster for the church’s Troop 54 Boy Scouts for a decade. Some of his favorite outings with the scouts were spent canoeing in Maine’s Rangeley Lakes and hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Devoted to preserving the natural environment, he and his wife and children did volunteer work for many years at Flanders Nature Center. He also contributed to land conservancy projects. For their volunteer work in Woodbury, he and his wife received the Bernard Rosenberg Award in 1999. In that year, Hart joined the Woodbury Scholarship Fund as a fund-raiser, and was proud that by 2014 the Fund was awarding $100,000 to 67 local students.
Hart is survived by his wife Virginia. He was predeceased by his son Charlie who is survived by his wife Carolyn and their daughter Jennifer. In addition, Hart is survived by a son Henry and his wife Susannah and their children Maria and James. He is also survived by his son Ted, and his wife Lucinda and their children, Thomas and Rachylle. Hart leaves a daughter Mary and her husband Michael Lewis and their son Mica. Hart was proud of his family’s many accomplishments, as his autobiography A Road Less Traveled (1996) attests. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on December 29, 2018, at the North Congregational Church in Woodbury. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Woodbury Scholarship Fund, PO Box 716, Woodbury CT 06798.
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