In Memoriam : Richard Hart

Richard Hart Richard O. Hart - age: 90
(December 13, 1927 to March 12, 2018 )
Resident of Benton, Illinois

Visitation Information:
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 16, 2018
Leffler Funeral Home
401 East Main Street
Benton, Illinois 62812

10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Saturday, March 17, 2018
First Christian Church
302 South Main Street
Benton, Illinois 62812

11:00 a.m. Saturday, March 17, 2018
Frst Christian Church
302 South Main Street
Benton, Illinois 62812

Masonic & Odd Fellows Cemetery
12740 Oddfellow Lane
Benton, Illinois 62812

Block: T

Richard Odum Hart, age 90, of Benton; passed away at 4:15 a.m. Monday, March 12, 2018 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, March 17, 2018 in the First Christian Church of Benton, with Pastor Kurt Sanders officiating. Burial will be in the Masonic and Odd Fellows Cemetery of Benton. Visitation will be from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 16, 2018 at the Leffler Funeral Home of Benton, and from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Saturday at the church.

Mr. Hart was born on December 13, 1927 in Benton, the son of Marion Murphy Hart and Constance (Skinner) Hart. He married the former Carolyn Coddington on December 23, 1951, and she survives.

He graduated from Benton High School in 1945, and then he would serve his country in the U.S. Navy from 1945 thru 1946, attaining the rank of Seaman First Class (Signalman).

He would then attend the University of Illinois, graduating in 1951 with a Bachelor Degree in Liberal Arts, Majoring in Political Science and Minoring in Economics. After graduating at the University of Illinois, he would attend Washington University in St.Louis, where in 1954 he would attain his Juris Doctorate Degree, and was admitted to the Illinois Bar on November 15, 1954. Also, in 1954 he was admitted to Practice Federal Courts; and in 1990 the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Mr. Hart was a member of Franklin County and Illinois State Bar Associations; Second Circuit Probate Law Study Group; Fellow, American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel, American Law Institute.

He was also a former Director of the Bank of Sesser from 1964-1991, President of the Franklin County Bar Association, 1964-1965 and 2000-2001; President of the First District Federation of Local Bar Associations in 1962; Charter Member of Board of Directors Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. of Illinois from 1964 to 2007 – Past Chairman of Board of Directors; Founding Member of Board of Directors ISBA Mutual Insurance Company (E&O Insurance), 1989 – 1993 (also a member of task force which developed ISBA Mutual); Member Illinois Bar Assembly 1984 to 1996; Member Board of Governors, Illinois State Bar Association 1990 to 1996 (received ISBA Board of Governors Award 1997); almost 80 year member of the First Christian Church of Benton where he served as a Trustee and was a former Deacon; former President of Benton Civic and Industrial Association, Inc.; former President Benton Area Chamber of Commerce; former member Benton Planning Commission; former Benton Zoning Board of Appeals; former member Shagbark Girl Scout Council Board of Directors and General Council; Board of Directors, Southern Illinois Incorporated from 1980 – 1982; former member Community Advisory Board WSIU-TV and WUSI-TV, Carbondale and Olney; former member Board of Directors of WSIU-WUSI Radio and TV; State Representative , 58th District from 1969 – 1971, 59th District 1972 – 1978, Democrat Caucus Chairman 1977 – 1978; Life member SIU Alumni Association, University of Illinois Alumni Association; Honorary Life Member SIU School of Law Alumni Association; Founders Medal, SIU School of Law (Bestowed March 1999); Founding member and past President of Franklin County Chapter CASA; Illinois Academy of Lawyers – 1999 Laureate – Inaugural Class; Founding Director of Franklin County Habitat for Humanity; Senior Partner Law Firm: Hart & Hart, 602 Public Square, Benton, IL; Member Board of Trustees, Rend Lake Conservancy District 2005 – 2007; Benton Rotary Club, B.P.O.E. #1234 (Benton Elks), Benton American Legion Post# 280.

Three accomplishments he was most proud of were his wife Carolyn (Coddington) Hart, originally from Lincoln Illinois, attended University of Illinois from 1949 – 1951; his two children: Murphy Hart, age 60, Graduated Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale in 1983, and partner in Hart Cantrell Law Firm of Benton; Paul Hart, age 58, MBA University of Tampa.

He enjoyed to, play golf, fish, and especially enjoyed spending time with his three grandchildren and his great-grandchild.

Surviving is his wife, of 66 years, Carolyn Hart of Benton; two sons: Murphy C. Hart and wife Jody of Benton, Paul R. Hart and wife Kim of Tampa, FL; three grandchildren: Ryan Hart of South Bend, IN, Caleb Hart of Benton, Ali Herndon and husband Dallas of Tampa, FL; a great-granddaughter Ruby Herndon; a niece Janice Legendre and husband Roger of Johnston City, IL; a nephew James Hart and wife Jayna of Benton; Mr. Hart’s longtime assistant Edie Jones and husband John of Benton.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a daughter Jennifer Hart; and a brother James O. Hart.

In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer donations be made to either the First Christian Church Fellowship Center Fund, or to the Benton Ministerial Alliance Summer Lunch Program.

To leave online condolences to the family, or to share memories of Dick, visit

Terry Cockrum - March 14, 2018Contact this person Contact this person

Stephen Pacey - March 15, 2018Contact this person Contact this person
Murphy: my sympathies to you and your family. Steve Pacey

Paul Scott - March 15, 2018Contact this person Contact this person
I'll miss you my dear friend may God bless and keep you in his arms in heaven. Your friend Paul Scott

Ray Hancock - March 15, 2018Contact this person Contact this person
Murphy and Jody, I was sad to hear about Richard "Dick's" passing. I liked, admired, and respected him. He was a notable leader in southern Illinois for many years. I was a radioman in the Navy, similar in some ways to a signalman, so we also share that common denominator. Fair winds and following seas throughout eternity is my wish for a shipmate. Ray Hancock, President emeritus, John A. Logan College and Illinois Community College Foundation.

Philip Frazier - March 15, 2018Contact this person Contact this person
It has been my great pleasure and privilege to have known Dick for over 35 years. His passing leaves this world short one of is true gentlemen. Dick made so many great contributions to everything and everyone he came into contact with. He was certainly one of southern Illinois’ significant citizens. His kind and caring demeanor was an example for all of us. He will be missed. Connie and I send sincere condolences.

Ned Mitchell - March 17, 2018Contact this person Contact this person
Dick was a great friend, a gentleman and wise counselor. Prayers of comfort, peace and understanding go out to Carolyn, Paul and Murphy and families and to his many friends. I have great memories

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Richard Hart photo

Richard Hart photo

Richard Hart photo