Lawyer, world adventurer Harold Bloomer dies at 85
GREENWICH — Harold Franklin Bloomer Jr. was a world-class outdoorsman, winning a sailing trophy as a younger man, as well as kayaking and trekking across the Arctic wilderness. As an older man, he hiked most of the Appalachian Trail.
In Greenwich and across southern Connecticut, he was also known as a major advocate for cycling and other forms of alternative transportation, and the cause of conservation. He died at his home in Greenwich on Friday after a short battle with leukemia. He was 85.
Known as Franklin, Bloomer was involved in a range of environmental and land-use issues in Greenwich. A serious cyclist, he biked across the USA and was still riding in his 80s. He was president of Greenwich Safe Cycling, which aimed to improve bike across across state land. In 2008, Gov. M. Jodi Rell called him “one of the state’s most passionate cycling advocates.” He was also on the regional advisory board to the state’s Transportation Strategy Board.
He sustained a major bike accident in 2004 that put him in the intensive care unit for days, but Bloomer was back in the saddle not long after.
Bloomer, a lawyer, was active in town land-use issues and promoted limitations on the size of large new homes that were constructed beginning in the 1990s. He was a longtime member of Representative Town Meeting, and chaired the RTM’s land-use committee.
An opera aficionado, he lectured on Berlioz, Donizetti and Verdi for an adult-education class in Greenwich, and he also hit high notes as a singer with the Berkshire Choral Festival, the Amherst Early Music Festival and the New Rochelle Opera.
A lover of adventure and arctic landscapes, Bloomer paddled around Baffin Island, where he was awakened one morning by a visit from a polar bear, and where he found “a sense of freedom and space that is part of the Arctic,” as he later recalled.
He was the founder of Greenwich’s Calf Island Conservancy, helping to restore and preserve the small island off the coast of the Greenwich.
“Throughout life, I’ve found ways to keep my body and my brain active,” he told the Amherst alumni magazine. “I’ve been blessed with good health, the result no doubt of my astute choice of parents. They also introduced me to sailing and bicycling, activities that gave me at an early age a sense of independence and control of my life that today’s kids don’t achieve until much later. I’ve also been lucky,” he reflected.
As an environmentalist, Bloomer said he wanted to “pass on to our children and grandchildren something like the lifestyle we have enjoyed,” he wrote in an essay in this newspaper.
Born in New York City on Nov. 4, 1933, the son of Harold F. Bloomer and Allene Cress Bloomer, he was raised in Greenwich. He graduated from St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, where he played center on the football team, Amherst and Columbia Law School. He served in the U.S. Navy on a minesweeper. After embarking on a legal career, he retired a partner at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, an international law firm.
He is survived by his brother Kent C. Bloomer; daughters Sarah Bloomer, Gail Connell, Leslie Lawrence, Kate Bloomer, Alice Bloomer; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at the Riverside Yacht Club on Nov. 9. The family is suggesting donations be made to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, 799 Washington St., Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.