Heather Kilpatrick, 72, died on the morning of Thursday, September 20 in the Sag Harbor home she has shared with her husband, Stephen Byers, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Mr. Byers was with Ms. Kilpatrick when she took her last breath.
Ms. Kilpatrick, who practiced law in the publishing world for over 35 years, was born in Richmond, Virginia on June 28, 1946 to Jane Kilpatrick (née Cavenaugh) and John Thomas Kilpatrick Jr. She attended St. Mary’s Junior College, graduating with honors, before attending the University of Lyon, France for a junior year abroad, during which Ms. Kilpatrick became fluent in French and developed a lifelong love for the country. She would go on to earn her undergraduate degree in 1968 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned Dean’s List honors, before attending that university’s School of Law — one of 10 women in the graduating class of 300 in 1972. She would further her education, earning a postgraduate Masters of Law degree in trade regulations at New York University’s School of Law in 1976.
From 1973 to 1976, Ms. Kilpatrick was an attorney at Time Incorporated in New York, working at Linden & Deutsch from 1976 to 1977 before serving as Associate Counsel and eventually Senior Counsel at Doubleday & Company, Inc. from 1977 to 1990. She would serve as Senior Counsel at Random House, before returning to Time Warner as that company’s Deputy General Counsel for its book group division. She retired from her position in 2007.
Ms. Kilpatrick met Mr. Byers in New York City and the couple wed in Richmond, Virginia in 1991, maintaining an apartment in New York where Mr. Byers served as the editor for National Geographic’s book division and the deputy editor for National Geographic Adventure magazine.
The couple bought a home in Sag Harbor the year they were married. Ms. Kilpatrick and Mr. Byers enjoyed a life of travel, a love for swimming, skiing and maintaining good relationships with close friends including the late Peter Matthiessen. For many years, recalled Mr. Byers, Ms. Kilpatrick would leave notes and poems in his pockets when he was traveling for work.
Ms. Kilpatrick was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 61 and was cared for by Mr. Byers at their Sag Harbor home, still travelling to places like Mr. Byers’ home-state of Montana during the early years of her illness.
In addition to her husband, Ms. Kilpatrick is survived by siblings John Thomas Kilpatrick III of South Boston, Virginia, Charles Hynds Kilpatrick of Richmond, Virginia, and Holly Kilpatrick, affectionately known as “Doodle, of Brooklyn, New York. A brother, Michael Cavenaugh Kilpatrick predeceased her. She is also survived by nieces Krystal Kilpatrick, Megan Kilpatrick and Elly Cimperman, nephew Matthew Kilpatrick and cousins Pat Kilpatrick and Katherine Kilpatrick.
A private funeral and burial service will be held on Saturday, September 29 at Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor, followed by a private reception. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Ms. Kilpatrick’s name to Fighting Chance, PO Box 1358, Sag Harbor, NY, 11963.