We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Ellinger-Kunz & Park Funeral Home & Cremation Service
Richard “Dick” Hart passed Monday May 16, 2022. He was 79.
Hart was Springfield, Illinois through and through. Born to Mary and Les Hart, Hart attended Hay Edwards, Springfield High School and the University of Illinois, where he eventually graduated from law school. Hart practiced law for forty years in Springfield and founded the law firm of Hart, Southworth & Witsman.
Hart’s true passion, however, was Springfield and its connection to Abraham Lincoln. Hart loved Lincoln and admired the man so much that he devoted much of his spare time to further preserving Lincoln’s legacy. He served on the board and as president of the Abraham Lincoln Association for many years. He wrote books — many, many books — about Lincoln and the people and influences around him. Hart’s extensive collection of written works was donated to the Sangamon Valley Collection of the Lincoln Library, where the manuscripts can be found online today.
As a leader in Springfield’s historic preservation movement, numerous historic buildings stand today because of Hart. He revitalized a strip of dilapidated Lincoln-era homes just west of downtown he named German Settlers Row; led efforts to save the Elijah Iles house, Springfield’s oldest standing home which is now a museum; and spearheaded the restoration of the Strawbridge-Shepherd House, now on the National Park Services National Register of Historic Places.
Hart was married for 56 years to Ann Tobin Hart, also from Springfield. They have three children — Evan, Julia and Jay and seven grandchildren.
In 2021, Hart earned the State Journal Register’s First Citizen Award, a crowning achievement for a man who loved Springfield. Hart was well known and beloved throughout the country. A celebration of life, to which all his friends and family are invited, will be scheduled for later this summer. Please make any donations in memory to Dick to the Elijah Iles House Foundation.