Richard Emmet was a leading force behind the Conservation Law Foundation.
By Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff | August 2, 2007
At an age when retirement beckons, Richard Emmet stepped into a third career and helped change the course of environmental law in Massachusetts.
Fresh from Harvard Law School in 1951, he had worked for Ropes & Gray in Boston, only to find that helping large companies reduce their tax burdens wasn't satisfying. Then he spent more than a quarter century at Buckingham Browne & Nichols, where he was revered for his teaching at the private school and was feared for his grading....
Born in New York City, Mr. Emmet spent much of his childhood at his family's mansion on Long Island, in Glen Cove. Among his ancestors was Charles Pratt, who made a fortune in the oil industry and founded Pratt Institute in New York City. Mr. Emmet may have felt emotionally closer to his Irish ancestors; he was a direct descendant of the Irish revolutionary Thomas Addis Emmet. He wrote what he called a minibiography of his ancestor and regularly gathered with his Emmet cousins during travels to Ireland....
Mr. Emmet also traveled to Alabama to take part in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, and was at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 for King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
Possessed of a prodigious memory, Mr. Emmet "could remember song lyrics from decades earlier in their entirety for hundreds of songs, Irish songs, Southern spirituals," said his daughter, Caroline Emmet Heald of Alexandria, Va. "He could recite long poems from memory."