Arent Hendrik Kits van Heyningen, 95, of Newport, RI, died Wednesday, May 11. Mr. Kits van Heyningen grew up in the Dutch East Indies in Java and Sumatra. He returned to the Netherlands in 1931 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, he joined Raytheon Submarine Signal division in Portsmouth. 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, 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 four grandchildren.
For the complete obituary, go to www.memorialfuneralhome.com.