Richard D. LeggatJuly 26, 1927 ~ June 17, 2017 (age 89)
Richard Durning Leggat of Cohasset, Massachusetts died peacefully on Saturday, June 17, 2017 surrounded by his loving family. He was a month shy of his 90th birthday.
Born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1927, Dick was the son of Esther Elliott and John Cochran Leggat. He attended Moody Junior High School and Deerfield Academy. Upon graduation from Deerfield in June of 1942 he immediately entered Dartmouth College, a month before his 16th birthday. Midway through college he enlisted in the United States Navy where he served a tour of duty in the Pacific until the end of World War II. He returned to Dartmouth and graduated in 1948. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1951. After law school he attended Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI and then served in the Judge Advocate General Corps (‘JAG’), rank Lieutenant JG, from 1951-1954. Following discharge from the service he joined the firm of Bingham, Dana & Gould where he practiced law over the course of a 50 plus year career.
In law school he met Patricia Bowler at a party in Cambridge. Patsy grew up in Hanover, NH, the daughter of Madeline Gile and John Pollard Bowler. Dr. Bowler was Dean of the Dartmouth Medical School and one of the founders of the Hitchcock Clinic. Popular and outgoing, Patsy was active in the Dartmouth Players, where Hanover women and children were called upon to play the female roles in the college’s theatrical productions. Before their formal introduction, Dick recounted later, “I knew who she was, but she didn’t know who I was.” They married in 1954 and shortly thereafter moved to Cohasset.
Once settled in Cohasset with a growing family, Dick began a long history of service to the town and surrounding area. Rarely did a request for involvement or leadership go unanswered. Among his many roles, he was Chairman of the Cohasset Advisory Committee, Chairman of the Cohasset Charter Commission, and Chairman of the Parish Committee of the Unitarian Church. With his close friend John Meyer he established the Cohasset Swim Trust and raised the funds necessary to build the town pool. He was also Chairman of the Lawyers’ Division of the United Way, trustee of the Laboure Center, served on the board of MASCO, and was a trustee and treasurer of The Medical Foundation.
In 1967, Dick was a founding member of the Cohasset Conservation Trust and served as trustee until 2004. Debbie Shadd, President of the CCT, said “Dick was a real giant in the history of the Cohasset Conservation Trust. The CCT benefitted enormously from his judgement and legal advice over the years.”
Beyond Cohasset, every educational institution he attended, and many he did not, benefitted from his efforts and involvement. For his beloved Dartmouth he served on the Alumni Council, was secretary of the Dartmouth Alumni Association of Boston and of Eastern Massachusetts in addition to his roles on behalf of the Class of 1948. He was also a member of the Fraternity Board of Overseers and was area chair for two capital campaigns. In 1983, he received an Alumni Award, Dartmouth’s highest alumni honor.
The Winsor School in Boston was perhaps the chief beneficiary of his prodigious energy and efforts. He became aware of it when two of his daughters attended, joining the board of trustees in 1973 and eventually becoming the President of the Corporation. His involvement there was a source of tremendous satisfaction and enjoyment. In 1992 he was honored with a Winsor diploma which he cherished. There were few things he valued more than education. One year, when he was preparing for the upcoming commencement ceremonies he sent a draft of his remarks to Virginia Wing, then the Head of School. “They came back covered with red edit marks,” he said with a broad smile, “I don’t think I passed.”
Dick was a passionate, longtime member of the board of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He liked to say he received his medical education while serving as the trustee representative and a non-medical member on a committee charged with examining the Institute’s internal systems at all levels of care and administrative structures. The effort resulted in Dana Farber becoming a national leader in patient safety protocols. It was one of his proudest collaborations. “I learned a lot from Dick; his words have stuck with me nearly on a daily basis for the past twenty years,” said Stephen Sallan, chair of the committee and Chief of Staff at Dana-Farber, “I often use his modified Emerson quotation: ‘an institution is but the elongated shadow of its leader’.”
Beyond the practice of law and service to others, Dick’s life was filled with a wide range of much-loved activities. Many of them involved time spent outdoors with Patsy, their six children, and a beloved Golden Retriever named Easy. A farmhouse in Lyme, NH, once described in Yankee Magazine as “one of the scruffier neighbors up the road”, provided a place from which to ski, make maple syrup and wield a chainsaw to clear a magnificent birch grove. In Cohasset, Dick enjoyed daily post-work summer swims and the relentless pursuit of the 3 handicap he had as a young man. He was an avid vegetable gardener in a plot that grew every year until Patsy started referring to it as “the back 40”. He was known for his crop of gooseberries and he had a peach tree and a peaches tree because as he noted, one produced one peach and the other two.
Dick is predeceased by his two brothers, Thomas Elliott and John Elliott. In addition to his wife, Dick is survived by his six children, Katharine (Jonathan Choate), Sarah, Deborah, Elizabeth, John Bowler (Elizabeth Seidel) and Robert Elliott (Sara D’Eathe), grandchildren Brooke Skyler Leggat and Matthew Steele Leggat, and many nieces and nephews.
A service will be held at the First Parish Church in Cohasset on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 11 AM, followed by a reception at the Cohasset Golf Club. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Cohasset Conservation Trust, PO Box 314, Cohasset, MA 02025