HARTFORD - Mitch Kurman, the Connecticut father who dedicated his life to reforming summer safety laws following the death of his son in a 1965 canoe accident, has died. He was 86.
His family said he died Oct. 1 in Seattle, where the former Westport man and his wife, Betty had moved to a year ago.
Mr. Kurman, a furniture salesman, was instrumental in passing safety laws in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and several other states, but his goal of federal legislation, co-sponsored for years by his home state senators, Abraham Ribicoff and Lowell Weicker, eluded him.
His 15-year-old son David died during a YMCA-sponsored canoe trip in Maine. His canoe was in white water when it became swamped. The family said the boy did not have a life jacket, and the group was using canoes with flat hulls designed for lakes and not rivers. Mr. Kurman quickly learned the only requirements for children's camps were for safe food and drinking water. It was then that Mr. Kurman began his crusade for safety standards.
Mr. Kurman spread his son's ashes in the Saugatuck River in Connecticut where both fished together. His family plans to spread his ashes in the same stream.
In addition to his wife, he leaves two daughters and two grandchildren.