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Arent H. Kits van Heyningen 1916-2011

by Chris Watson on May 27, 2011


On behalf of KVH employees worldwide, we wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the Kits van Heyningen family following the passing of Arent H. Kits van Heyningen. Mr. Kits, as he was known to all of us, was an inspirational figure here at KVH due to his perseverance, his dedication to his craft and to the company, his unwavering commitment to providing the best possible products to our customers, and especially for the respect and personal interest he showed toward all who knew him. He will be greatly missed by all those who had the privilege of working with him.

Born in Apeldoorn, Netherlands on April 9, 1916, he was the son of the late Arend and Adrienne Kits van Heijningen.

Mr. 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 his undergraduate and post-graduate 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 Montreal, 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, Rhode Island, he joined Raytheon Submarine Signal division in Portsmouth where he worked as a principal engineer until retiring in 1986.

In 1982, Mr. Kits van Heyningen started Sailcomp Industries along with his two sons, Robert and Martin. Sailcomp became KVH Industries in 1986 and he served as 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 to Bermuda race regularly. Last year, at 94, he became the oldest sailor to compete in this classic yacht race.

Mr. Kits van Heyningen was a prolific inventor with numerous patents and enjoyed combining his love of engineering with his favorite sport. He worked on the electronics for several America’s Cup campaigns, starting with the French challenge in 1980. He invented several innovative sailing instruments that are still produced to this day.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Josina (de Smit) Kits van Heyningen of Newport, RI, 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.

KVH founder Arent Kits ven Heyningen in Newport-to-Bermuda Race

Arent H. Kits van Heyningen 1916-2011

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