Joseph Austin Kilbourn of New Canaan, Connecticut died peacefully on July 21 at Calvary Hospital in Bronx, New York. He was 92. Mr. Kilbourn was a longtime Rowayton resident, and a member of one of the seaside town’s oldest families.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, on June 16, 1926, he was the seventh of eight children of Jonathan Francis Kilbourn, Sr., and Clara Vivell Kent Kilbourn. Raised in Rowayton beginning at age 11, Mr. Kilbourn’s parents and their children occupied a 9-bedroom Victorian-era home, which had been purchased by his maternal grandfather, William J. Kent, in 1909.
Mr. Kilbourn was a 1942 graduate of Norwalk High School and earned a post-graduate diploma from the Loomis School in 1943. Later that year he matriculated at Yale University. Mr. Kilbourn served a two-year U.S. Army hitch from 1944-46, exiting the service from Camp Croft, South Carolina, with the rank of staff sergeant. He returned to Yale and graduated in 1948 with prominent fellow classmate, George Herbert Walker Bush, who would become the nation’s forty-first president. Mr. Kilbourn served on the class Executive Committee as treasurer for a decade and as class secretary from 1982-88.
In 1998, Mr. Kilbourn was elected governor general of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America. He was a council member for four decades of The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut. His membership had understandable origins given that Mr. Kilbourn was a 10th generation descendant of Thomas Kilbourn, who immigrated from Cambridgeshire, England, and settled in Wethersfield, Connecticut, in 1635.
A 1952 graduate of Columbia University Law School, Mr. Kilbourn joined the New York firm Bigham Englar Jones & Houston the following year, an association that would remain intact for more than five decades. He retired from the practice of law in 2012, as a member of the firm Cone & Kilbourn in Mt. Kisco, New York.
A member of the Rowayton Hose Company for over 60 years, Mr. Kilbourn served two terms as president (1975-79; 1983-84), and was a volunteer firefighter for 45 years in its adjunct Rowayton Volunteer Fire Department. He was also a member of the Norwalk Yacht Club, the Turf & Field Club, and the Yale Club.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Elaine Deran Kilbourn of New Canaan; a sister, Olivia Kilbourn Birdsall of Ann Arbor, Michigan; five children: Mary Kilbourn Miner of Plano, Texas; Pamela Kilbourn Smith of Great Falls, Virginia; Kent Kilbourn of Madison, Connecticut; and Connor Kilbourn and Andrew Kilbourn, both of Norwalk; eight grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m., on Friday, July 27, at St. John Church, 1986 Post Road, Darien, Connecticut 06820. Interment will follow at St. John’s Cemetery in Springdale.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Rowayton Hose Company No. 1, 136 Rowayton Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06853.