Founder of KVH Industries forerunner dies

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Arent Hendrik Kits van Heyningen, founder of the company that later became KVH Industries, died May 11 in Newport, R.I. He was 95.

Kits van Heyningen grew up in the Dutch East Indies in Java and Sumatra. He returned to the Netherlands in 1931 to study and earned undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Delft. A decorated officer, he fought in World War II for the Dutch army and the underground resistance, and later as part of the British army.

He worked at Phillips Electronics in Eindhoven, Holland, for several years before immigrating to Canada in 1953. There he worked at Central Dynamics and Canadian Aviation Electronics, where he designed one of the first flight simulators for military aircraft.

After moving to Newport, he joined the Raytheon Submarine Signal division in Portsmouth, where he worked as a principal engineer until retiring in 1986.

In 1982, Kits van Heyningen started Sailcomp Industries, along with his two sons, Robert and Martin. Sailcomp became KVH Industries in 1986, and he was chief scientist until 2010.

An avid sailor, he was a longtime member of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club. He sailed locally in many regattas and sailed in the Newport Bermuda race regularly. Last year, at 94, he became the oldest sailor to compete in the classic yacht race.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Josina (de Smit) Kits van Heyningen of Newport, R.I.; his sister Adrienne Kits van Heyningen of Specchia, Italy; his son Robert W.B. Kits van Heyningen and wife, Debra; his son Martin A. Kits van Heyningen and wife, Kathleen; and his grandchildren: Hendrik, Arent, Willem and Thomas.

A memorial service was held Sunday.

Click here for the full obituary.


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