LOUISVILLE — David Richart, the founding director of Kentucky Youth Advocates who was described as a tenacious champion for children, died Sunday at his home in suburban Louisville. He was 63.
Mr. Richart, who was one of the state's best-known voices on child abuse and juvenile justice issues, was diagnosed recently with terminal pancreatic cancer, his good friend and colleague Helen Deines told The Courier-Journal of Louisville.
"He was absolutely tenacious on behalf of kids," said Deines, a retired social work professor from Spalding University who met Mr. Richart in 1973 when they were graduate students at the University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work.
Mr. Richart helped draft what became Kentucky's uniform juvenile law, the first attempt to standardize state law dealing with children charged with offenses. Mr. Richart and others worked for several years before it was adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1987, with Mr. Richart as the principal author, said Harry Rothgerber, a former juvenile public defender.
"I'd say Kentucky was blessed by having David Richart in our midst," said state Rep. Tom Burch, chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee. "He was just a good advocate for children."
Mr. Richart was a driving force in creating Kentucky Youth Advocates in 1976, helping shape it into a well-known, independent advocacy and lobbying group for children, said Rothgerber, who served on its board.
wMr. Richart left Kentucky Youth Advocates in 1997 after founding his own organization, the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families, which he used as a platform for research, advocacy and consulting work.
Rothgerber said Mr. Richart continued his work through his institute until his recent health problems forced him to dissolve the organization.
Deines said Mr. Richart was single and had no children.
Pearson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements, which were pending Monday.