Heather Kilpatrick, Publishing Lawyer

June 28, 1946 - Sept. 20, 2018
Heather Kilpatrick, June 28, 1946 - Sept. 20, 2018

Beautiful, elegant, fiercely loyal to family and friends,” and “whip smart,” Heather Kilpatrick had a distinguished 35-year career in publishing law, first as attorney for Time magazine during the Watergate scandal and later as counsel for Doubleday and Company, Random House, and Time Warner’s book division.

Ms. Kilpatrick, who died at home in Sag Harbor on Sept. 20 at the age of 72, earned her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill. She was one of only 10 women in a class of 300 and finished in the top third of her class. She went on to earn a Master of Laws degree in trade regulations from the New York University School of Law. 

At Time Incorporated, she was responsible for reviewing the legal implications of the magazine’s editorial content and worked with “writers and editors to achieve legally precise reporting without compromise of legitimate editorial prerogatives,” she wrote on her résumé. At Linden and Deutsch, where she worked for a year following that, her responsibilities included regulatory, publishing, and entertainment matters, and at Doubleday she was responsible for all legal matters in the broadcasting, publishing, and the retail bookshop division. She retired from Time Warner as deputy general counsel. 

Ms. Kilpatrick was born on June 28, 1946, in Richmond, Va., a daughter of John Thomas Kilpatrick Jr. and the former Jane Cavenaugh. She grew up in Richmond and though she moved north to live and work and traveled extensively, she never lost her Southern accent, her husband, Stephen Byers, said.

The two met at a dinner party in New York in the late 1980s. He was “crazy smitten right off,” he wrote in her eulogy. Mr. Byers was deputy editor at National Geographic, editor of its book division, and served on the board of its Expeditions Council. 

They were married three years later, in November 1991, and embarked on all sorts of expeditions together. She was a Professional Association of Diving Instructors-certified scuba diver, and they traveled each year to the Caribbean. She also joined her husband and the late author Peter Matthiessen on fishing trips to Montana, where Mr. Byers had lived for many years. 

They traveled to Europe many times. Ms. Kilpatrick had spent a junior year abroad in Lyon, France, and remained fluent in French. 

“For more than half of our 27 married years, she was my rock and my savior,” Mr. Byers wrote. Eleven years ago, while delivering a talk on libel law to book editors, “her mind went blank like an erased blackboard, and she couldn’t continue,” he said. Tests revealed early onset Alzheimer’s disease. “Then I became her rock for the last 12 years of her life,” her husband wrote. 

The couple had a house in Sag Harbor throughout their marriage, and also kept an apartment in New York. They split their time between the two until retirement, and then were in Sag Harbor most of the time after that. Ms. Kilpatrick remained at home during the full course of her illness, her husband looking after her with the help of a caregiver, Nga Nguyen. 

She was buried on Sept. 29 at Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor, with the Rev. Michel Engu Dobbs of the Ocean Zendo in Bridgehampton officiating at a graveside service. 

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her siblings John Thomas Kilpatrick III of South Boston, Va., Charles Hynds Kilpatrick of Richmond, and Holly Kilpatrick of Brooklyn, and by three nieces and a nephew. Her brother Michael Cavenaugh Kilpatrick died before her.

Her husband has suggested donations in her memory to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978, or to Fighting Chance, P.O. Box 1358, Sag Harbor 11963.